Yes - it’s that time of year when dates and venues are being secured for the gatherings of Christmas parties. Offices, churches, non-profits and many other groups are scrambling to procure the most wonderful time of the year event.
There are so many distractions when planning for this. The first hurdle is to find a date that works for most, if not all those invited. Sometimes it’s easier to pick a date for larger organizations because the smaller the invite list the more resourceful you have to be to ensure all are included. With 500 of your closest co-workers being invited, no one is going to miss 50 or so people compared to the small office part of 10, where everyone wants to be a part of the event.
If you haven’t thought about what your group, whatever it is, is doing for a Christmas ‘thing’ this year and are looking to book a location, you better get on it! No matter how early this process starts, it seems choices are limited.
Let’s look at the office Christmas party. Businesses small and large face the challenge of this ubiquitous tradition. Where faith and the true meaning of Christmas may be missing, there’s no going without the party! Often times the Christmas party is intended to boost morale and celebrate success and the food can either make or break the event.
The stakes are high with busy calendars and high expectations. Food and drink in overabundance satisfying varied palates is crucial. How do you plan for success without being distracted? Those who plan these annual soirees know that combining work and play can be tricky.
Focus counts. Someone, somewhere in charge has an idea of what type of event they want to provide for Christmas. For most gatherings, this does include some type of meal. From there, it’s usually up to a small committee of one or more to fill in the details.
For me, it’s all about the food. Once the date and location are secured and the little distractions are taken care of, it’s time to focus on the food. Here are some tips to be successful in the food offerings.
Let the space dictate the food. Sit down event? Excellent. Look to hearty menus of good that will require a fork and knife. If it works, a buffet with plenty of tables and chairs for eating satisfies most of the attending palates. Buffets also work if your venue has big, wide open spaces perfect for mingling but nowhere to sit. Bring on the finger foods or items easy to eat with one hand while balancing a drink in the other. Tapas buffets are popular and can be an unexpected treat.
Get creative. A great way to shake up the traditional table is to go global with the food. Perhaps an international holiday would work. You could serve shrimp cocktail like you did last year, or you could serve up a sushi platter. Cheese-and-crackers doldrums or Chinese potstickers. Maybe Mediterranean tapenade-topped crostinis. If you go this route and shake up the predictable, make sure you don’t alienate the picky partygoers. Everything weird and wonderful that you like to indulge in may not work for the group. Play to the attenders.
Everything in moderation - especially alcohol. Pairing successive courses with beer or wine helps to curb alcohol consumption without compromising the festive atmosphere. Don’t have the party with the legendary tale of the coworker who over-indulged. Even some delicious chocolate cake can be paired with a sweet dessert wine.
Offer lighter fare for those who don’t want to be mistaken for Santa during the holidays. Holiday party goers might be looking for lighter options on the menu. It’s great to provide a varied mix of the yummy indulgent party food and the wholesome, healthy fare. There is a plethora of delicious healthy options to ensure everyone can indulge - it’s the holiday season after all.
Lastly - be considerate of the vegetarians, those you know of and those you don’t. It’s almost guaranteed there will be some attending the office holiday party. Most venues will be able to assist you in providing a tantalizing vegetarian choice on the menu.
I get excited just writing about the upcoming holiday events. For office parties, they are wonderful occasions to celebrate the contributions of all in the workplace with the fiscal year end fast approaching. Be creative and look to plan your best Christmas party ever... until next year!
Nancy Revie is a Guelph author, motivational speaker, fitness instructor and entertainer. Visit Nancy at www.nancyrevie.com. Her column appears every other week