Holiday Party Planning Tips for Fall/Winter 2013
It’s not too early to plan your holiday parties! Here are some hints from local experts.
(page 2 of 4)
If you don’t already have a venue, it’s time to start searching, Neef adds. Wait too long and “you’re stuck doing a Sunday brunch instead of a Friday or Saturday night, if that’s what you were originally looking for,” she says.
Still, don’t feel obligated to stick to the Friday/Saturday night tradition. It’s not just the venues that might be overbooked; it’s your guests as well. McConnell says that Thursday nights are becoming more popular in recent years precisely because of potential guests’ busy schedules. Holding holiday parties at nontraditional times and days can result in a better turnout.
Eat, Drink, Be Merry
Next, figure out what kind of a party it will be. An intimate, sit-down dinner party will make for lots of conversation among a small, close group of people, while a cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres, buffet or food stations will allow for a more energetic setting that encourages mixing and mingling. These work better than sit-down dinners for most parties because guests tend to drop in at different times.
If possible, select a caterer eight to 10 weeks in advance and discuss your setup and menu options. The caterer can clue you into the trends and help set your party apart. For example, mashed potato bars can be fun, “but if everyone is doing that, you might want to do something different,” says Neef. You might instead serve risotto in martini glasses, McConnell says.
It’s best to have primarily finger foods that can be eaten with one hand, such as mini-pot pies. A taco bar can be made fancier with “foodie-based toppings” like pulled pork, braised chicken, and red lettuce and cabbage instead of regular lettuce, Neef says.
If there will be children at the party, make sure there are food options that will appeal to them and are within their reach, suggests Leanne Silicato Prosser, co-owner of Make My Day Events in Rehoboth Beach.
“At the holidays many people want to be with friends and family and all the children. But people don’t always think about how they will entertain the kids and serve foods the kids will like and can eat on their own,” she says.
Some changes have come with economic troubles. People might decide to offer wine, beer and a specialty drink instead of making any and all liquors available with an open bar. “People are drinking a lot less than they used to,” says Polly Weir, director of conference services at the University of Delaware. “We don’t sell nearly as many open bars as we did 5, 10 years ago. There’s a lot more sensitivity to driving under the influence.”