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Distracted Dining: It’s​ ​beginning​ ​to​ ​plan​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​like​ ​Christmas

In​ ​this​ ​column,​ ​Nancy​ ​gives​ ​tips​ ​and​ ​trips​ ​for​ ​food​ ​to​ ​enhance​ ​the​ ​Christmas​ ​party experience
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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




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