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How to Throw The Perfect Holiday Bash

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Holiday Party Desserts

With summer parties out the way and the official arrival of fall, for many, it’s holiday party planning time. Although it can be one of the most exciting times of the year, getting there can be a stressor. Myriad questions arise, such as, how do I throw a unique event? Where will it be? What should I serve to satisfy diverse appetites? What should I do for entertainment? Are tacos still the rage? (P.S. Yes, tacos will always be the rage.)

Want to get straight to it? Pick from our already curated holiday options using our Seasons of Celebration menus complete with special cocktail pairings.

 

1. Start Planning Early

Repeat after us: it’s never too early to start planning for your corporate holiday party. And an in-the-know caterer can be the only resource you need when planning your holiday party. From guidance and access to venue selection, help with budgetary considerations, planning around diverse group needs and connecting with other vendors, your caterer can do more than just provide amazing food and beverage. For many of our clients, we become their best friend as we guide them through the process from start to finish.

2. Pick a Venue

Nothing can be more nightmarish than having grandiose visions for your holiday party and then having to settle for a less-than-grandiose space. Plus, the location of your holiday party can be the biggest draw for getting your organization excited. Choosing a location can be hard, however, which is why working with a trusted partner makes this part of the process much easier. Not only do we have access to some of the hottest venues — like the soon-to-open SNL exhibit at the Museum of Broadcast Communications (where, yes, you can have your corporate holiday party), we also have a pulse on available venues throughout the city. We know which venues will fit your budget and which venues are a perfect match for your organization’s culture.

Sales Manager, Helen Pole, also has a great tip in helping you choose the best venue by focusing on location and accessibility. “Decide the best central location for your group. Whether it’s downtown or easy access via train, deciding on the venue first is the biggest piece because the venue is going to tell a lot of your story in terms of theme and decor.”

Tips for Planning a Holiday Party

2016 Crate & Barrel Holiday Party at Venue One North Shore, Planner: Shannon Gail Weddings and Events, Photography: Collin Pierson, Decor: Event Creative

Venue Tip: Browse our 80+ partner venues in Chicagoland for inspiration.

3. Choose a Concept

Every great party starts with a great theme. From Indoor BBQ and Tropical Island Soiree to a Winterland Celebration, to even a Chicago-specific theme, the ideas are endless. More importantly, this is where your food and beverage offerings can really shine.

“You can do a lot with the wintery theme by creating different stations focusing on seasonal, holiday flavors such as pumpkin, cranberry, and apple,” says Pole. Other ideas like a hot apple cider bar, pairing donuts with apple cider and having a s’mores or hot chocolate bar are other ideas where food can help deliver on the theme.

4. Customize Your Menu Offering

Cocktails for holiday parties

People remember details, especially when it comes to food and drink at an event, so think about offering something unique to provide that special “wow” factor. Custom stations, creative hors d’oeuvres and whimsical takeaways are easy opportunities to delight guests, play up the theme, or highlight something unique about your company. Specialty cocktails are also a great way to add a fun component to your event.

“Craft cocktails are a great way to spice up your holiday party,” says Sales Manager, Rachel Krieger. “Guests love to interact not only with the chefs but also the bartenders. Incorporating our in-house mixologist elevates the party and is a great source of entertainment. Festive cocktails with ingredients like pomegranate seeds, rosemary sprigs or spicy simple syrups also instantly create that ‘home for the holidays’ vibe.”

Dietary restrictions and exposure to different ingredients and cuisines, as well as transparency around food sourcing, also mean people are looking for more variety and seasonality from their food experiences these days. A good caterer understands market trends, knows which menus work well for certain needs, and is experienced in developing menus that satisfy large groups.

Looking Back at a Creative Outdoor Event with HMR Designs at Hudsonville Dahlia Farm

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HMR_Dahlia-070

It all started with a bride’s quest for dahlias.

 

Which is how we found ourselves on a bus one day last fall with Brittanie Navarro and the team from Blue Plate’s longtime partner and collaborator, HMR Designs. Destination: Hudsonville Dahlia Farm in Michigan for a farm-to-table lunch and flower-picking getaway. Brittanie wanted to host an informal lunch with the wedding planner using the farm as the backdrop, so she reached out to our team for inspiration. A simple menu request soon turned into a fully produced event; when people who cater events co-host events themselves, no opportunity is lost on the chance to create a memorable experience.

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In the Kitchen With Blue Plate: Spotlight on Strawberries

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Strawberry and Baby Arugula Salad, Photo: Blue Plate Catering

Strawberry and Baby Arugula Salad, Photo: Blue Plate Catering

When we think of summer’s pantry of ingredients, the dependable strawberry comes to the top of our list. With its vibrant red color, juicy texture and signature sweetness dotted with mild tartness, strawberries add dimension, flavor and color to a dish. They are also packed with the good-for-you stuff like vitamin c, potassium, fiber, folate and antioxidants making them both delicious and healthy; a culinary win-win. They are available year-round but summer is when they should truly be enjoyed, and using strawberries in your menu can be as easy as presenting them in a fruit tray to infusing them in your drinks. Read our chef tips from Chef de Cuisine Melissa Chickerneo on how to use one of our favorite summer ingredients.

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Pair Your Favorite Winter Foods with the Right Beer

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Winter Beer Pairings

Some of you may be well aware that wine isn’t the only beverage that pairs wonderfully with food. And some of you may be surprised to discover that beer also serves to greatly enhance a meal.

Whether you’re a veteran or novice when it comes to beer and food pairings, you’re sure to appreciate the tips and suggestions below for pairing delicious winter foods with the right beer.

Tips for Pairing Beer and Food

When the cold weather moves in, strong beers like barley wines, imperial stouts and monk-made Belgian ales are excellent choices for pairing with both savory, hearty dishes and sweet desserts. As a general guideline, you’ll want to determine if the beer and food flavors will complement or contrast one another. Then balance the intensity of both the beer and food.

Here are some additional tips to help you come up with the perfect pairing:

  • Sour beers work well with fatty cheeses

  • Hoppy beers tend to make foods seem spicier

  • Darker beers typically pair well with rich, heavy meals

  • Complementary flavors work well together. For example, brown ales/darker ales with roasted flavors go well with grilled foods that have similar roasted or smoked flavors.

  • Contrasting flavors also work well together, such as a sweet stout with a salty oyster dish.

  • It’s very important to match the intensity of the beer with that of the food. Otherwise, one will end up overwhelming the other.

Great Beer and Food Pairing Suggestions for Winter

Try some of these winter beer and food pairings, recommended by Epicurious.

  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale pairs well with blue cheese or a nutty pastry, like pecan pie. Contrary to its name, this barley “wine” doesn’t contain any grapes. However, it does have an elevated alcohol content, making it a strong and warming ale that’s perfect for winter.

  • Brauerei Aying Ayinger Celebrator, with flavors of cocoa, dark fruit, and brown sugar, pairs beautifully with roasted pork and chocolate desserts. This strong, malt-sweet lager was originally developed by German monks for consumption during Lent.

  • Stone Brewing Co. Imperial Russian Stout has flavors of coffee, anise, and cocoa, making it a great partner for brownies and other fudgy desserts, as well as duck, steak, and cream sauces.

Try out one or more of these pairings – or come up with your own – and let us know your thoughts! If you have any other tips for winter beer and food pairings, we’d love to hear them.

Top Fall Wedding Ideas

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Fall Wedding Ideas | Blue Plate Catering

With the weather often being more comfortable in the fall than in summer, and the beautiful fall foliage that provides the perfect backdrop for outdoor weddings and pictures, it’s no wonder that fall is increasingly becoming the season of choice for weddings.

If you’re planning a fall wedding, get some inspiration from the fall wedding ideas below:

  • Start with a menu that is seasonally inspired. Fall foods provide comfort while taking advantage of the bounty of garden fare that is available. Think of incorporating meats with paired sauces, creamy soups and bisques, and fresh, garden-inspired fare. Add popular fall pies to your dessert selection such as the classic apple pie or a pie featuring your favorite berry.

 

  • Feature a special autumn drinks menu that includes beverages like apple cider mimosas, maple bourbon cocktails, hot toddies, and hot spiked ciders, as well as an array of flavored coffees for after dinner. Our “My Favorite Godfather”  with amaro, scotch and chocolate bitters is the perfect example of creatively layering fall flavors into a unique cocktail experience.
Godfather Cocktail | Blue Plate Catering

Blue Plate Catering

  • Choose rich fall colors to use throughout your décor, such as brick, dark green, cranberry, and charcoal gray to add depth to your wedding décor. Deep jewel tones of amber, emerald, sapphire, and garnet create an exceptionally elegant atmosphere. And, if it suits your style or theme, don’t be afraid to incorporate unanticipated fall colors like light or hot pink.

 

  • Take advantage of the gorgeous scenery and use elements provided by nature in your décor, including twigs, leaves, and flowers. For a lovely color and texture contrast, add fall leaves to your bouquet. Or place a green garland in an entryway for the ceremony for guests to enjoy upon entering.
Tablescapes | Blue Plate Catering

Amy Aiello Photography

  • For a truly romantic fall setting, accent main colors like merlot and rust with shades of cream. Instead of trying to precisely match colors, experiment with different tones and shades within your palette to attain a more authentic look and feel.

 

  • Create an assorted floral tablescape by grouping flowers, such as mustard-yellow ranunculus and pink roses, in clusters. Displayed in clear vases of various heights and sizes, this visual arrangement is colorful, romantic, and dreamy.

 

  • Wheat is another fantastic fall themed wedding decoration option. Create bundles of wheat to use for centerpieces or incorporate wheat into your bouquet — or both! If using in a bouquet, stems of wheat look especially lovely when added to cream and soft pink colored roses. Wrap in burlap, and you have an ideal fall wedding bouquet.

 

When it comes to fall weddings, there is an abundance of creative ideas from seasonally-inspired menus to unique tablescapes to choose from. Using these ideas to spark your imagination, be sure that, in the end, your personal style, taste, and personality shines through!

 

Find more inspiration at our Wedding Inspiration Pinterest Board!