Holiday party planning comes once a year. And you know that all good parties start with an inspired holiday menu. Your team will probably remember the food more than the entertainment, venue, or even the company gift. So it’s important to get it right. What can you do to make sure your holiday party menu is unique and satisfying? Here are few ideas to spice up your holiday party in no time. After all, there are parties for hosting and marshmallows for toasting (maybe).
Choose the Venue First
Choose your venue and corresponding theme first, and then plan your food around the environment. If your venue has accessible tables and chairs, you can plan for hearty plates that require a fork and knife. If your party locale is an open loft space conducive to mingling and casual conversation, then bite-sized finger foods are the way to go.
When thinking of themes, just remember office parties don’t have to be a bore. Go nostalgic this year and consider out-of-the-box themes like “80s Throwback” or “Old Hollywood.” Once you’ve settled on a venue and a party theme, coordinating suitable menu options for the space becomes less daunting. A swanky theme won’t pair well with buffet-style menus just like a sit down table service doesn’t work for relaxed gatherings.
Keep The Cuisine Seasonal
Whether you’re planning an elegant plated meal, dinner buffet, or casual hors d’oeuvres, a seasonal cuisine elevates any menu. Fruits and veggies like cranberries and oranges or sweet potatoes and yams are a simple festive addition to any holiday entree or side dish. Winter side dishes like butternut squash risotto or winter fruit compotes pair well with time-tested entrees like honey glazed ham or peppercorn roast beef.
Some dishes suit holiday office parties better than others. Your regular sandwich and salad bar for your office lunch meetings probably isn’t an appropriate meal for the yearly office party. If you need extra inspiration, ask your office to throw in their two cents and provide examples of foods they enjoy this time of year. You’ll be surprised at how diverse your employees’ food preferences are based on their personal heritage and holiday traditions.
Local, farm fresh food is growing in popularity as people continue to crave organic, locally grown ingredients. Consider incorporating a few farm-to-table ingredients into your holiday menu to add flair. For example, a simple salad can be upgraded into a holiday apple salad farmed and sourced locally with apples, cheese crumbles, and greens. Even a traditional beef stew could be elevated using red wine from a local winery. Think creatively about ways to revamp some of your favorite dishes to include fresh, local foods that your team will love.
Incorporate a few farm-to-table ingredients into your holiday menu to add flair.
Restaurant Business Magazine says comfort food is another trending cuisine making a comeback on American menus. Nostalgic dishes pair perfectly with the warm, comforting feelings often associated with the holiday season. Your guests will be pleasantly surprised when presented with a perfectly cooked meatloaf — a dish that’s showing up on every restaurant menu this year — a roasted root vegetable gratin, and spiked bread pudding for dessert.
Every cuisine has their own version of comfort foods that will satisfy many varying dietary expectations. Simply choose a cuisine to pair with your theme. Pair the entrees with a hot cocoa or winter cocktail bar and you’ll have your guests feeling right at home throughout the entire evening.
Cater to the Crowd
Don’t forget your vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free employees. A big part of holiday party planning is catering to your employees — and their guests — with dietary restrictions. But making these guests feel welcomed while also satisfying a large crowd can be difficult. Then again, the holiday season is also a time when many employees may hope for lighter options to counteract all those Christmas cookies they’ve been eating.
You can cater to a wide variety of dietary preferences as well as health-conscious employees by providing a couple vegetarian or vegan options along with other meat entrees. Make life even easier by choosing side dishes and appetizers that pair well with all entrees. Easily customizable items like Crostini, Caprese skewers, or Brussel sprouts with bacon and cranberries are festive, wholesome, and suitable dishes for many diets.
Order the Right Amount of Food
A steady supply of both food and drink is crucial to holiday party planning. But when it comes to portion control, how much food you should order depends on the menu depth itself. To land on the safe side, always consider rounding up when trying to determine how much drink and food you’ll need.
For parties, people will surely drink about 3 beverages each. If you’re serving coffee, always remember that it is usually consumed in the morning, after meal, and later afternoon. Those coffee drinkers often consume three to four drinks every four hours. And it is also essential to bring sugar and cream substitutes intended for those who don’t consume real sugar or dairy products.
When you serve breakfast, expect that your guests will eat about five ounces of your main course and also 2 to 3 side dishes at about four ounces each. You may add sweet dessert, bread, or starch. If you’re serving fruit salad, your guests will eat one half to one cup per person. If you’re serving pastry, plan on serving 2 pieces for each person.
Portions of appetizers varies from the kind of event you’re having. If you plan on catering a no dinner function, offer enough food of ten to fifteen pieces for each person. Remember that people usually eat more if appetizers are being served in a buffet-style rather than being passed on a tray.
Serve four ounces for each person for the main course with 2 to 3 side dishes in four ounces each. Remember to serve 1 to 2 slices of bread and one dessert per person. If you’re planning on serving buffet-style sandwich, expect that each guest will eat four ounces of meat as well as two ounces of cheese for each person.
If you’re serving dinner, allot a five to seven ounces portion of the main course and 2 to 3 side dishes. If you plan on serving vegetables as side dish, allow four ounces. If you’re serving pasta or beans, serve only two ounces portions. Remember to serve 1 ounce of salad and bread.
If you’re planning to serve a pasty dessert like tart or cake, expect that you guest will consume one slice each. If you’re serving creamy dessert like mousse or pudding, serve four ounces per guest and allot five ounces portions of ice cream.
Holiday parties are a wonderful way to show appreciation for your team and their work this year. It’s also your opportunity to plan an event that goes above and beyond your traditional office meetings and work lunches. Try a few of these holiday party planning tips to craft a bash that stands out from all the rest.
A Tasting at Your Office
Café de Boston is always happy to coordinate a tasting of menu items from our rich menu that may match your catering needs.
As you explore new venues to meet your corporate catering needs invite Café de Boston to visit your office with a complimentary tasting array of savory and see offerings for breakfast, lunch, receptions and buffet suppers.
All we ask is that you share guidelines in advance on the frequency and size of your catering needs along with most frequent delivery times so that we may create a tasting menu to match your expectations.