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