The “perfect” holiday party

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We realize that the summer is just coming to an end, but for Chicago party planners it’s time to start thinking about the holidays. We all know the holidays can be stressful, but if you plan well at least some of the stress can be alleviated. Here are FIG’s best tips for planning the “perfect” holiday party:

1. Timing isn’t everything, but it is important. If your holiday office party is right after work or during the work day it doesn’t have to be long. Shortening the party will allow your employees to “have a life” after work. But, be careful, if the party is off-site don’t make it so short that no one can get there. Two-three hours is generally perfect.

2. Your venue doesn’t have to be the coolest place on the block. If your event is short consider having it right in your office so employees don’t have to figure out transportation or worry about their laptop. You can bring in rentals to class the space up or entertainment to create an experience that will take employees out of the work mind-set (and don’t forget to turn the ringers off).

Vintage Lounge set-up

3. If you are going off-site, consider a venue that “has something going on” like glass blowing or live music. Think about your crowd, if they are really into beer or spirits consider a local brewery or distillery.

Tour of Motor Row Brewing (Photo by Peter Wynn Thompson)

4. If you are worried about guests over-imbibing consider a simple beer and wine bar. Or highlight a low-alcohol specialty cocktail like a punch (see sample recipe below). Also, hire a bartender! Not only will they be able to monitor how much guests are drinking, but they’ll be able to remind guests to drink water and/or create weaker drinks as the night progresses.

Vintage punch bowl with citrus tequila punch

5. Everyone is fairly conscious of vegetarian and gluten-free guests in these times, but if you’re feeling too much stress to appeal to everyone’s dietary needs consider a station where guests can choose their add-ins. Our BYOSR (build your own spring roll) Station where guests can choose vegetarian (seasoned tofu), seafood (Laughing Bird shrimp), or meat (hoisin pork) options.

Spring Roll Station (photo by Cage & Aquarium)

6. Don’t do too much yourself! Chances are you are not a professional party planner, but were just asked to wear the hat for this event. By outsourcing the items you are not good at/don’t like you’ll be able to better manage your time and create a stress-free event for you and your co-workers. Don’t want to worry about how much alcohol to get? Have your caterer provide a per person package and worry about that. Hire a professional designer or florist to spruce up the space rather than worrying about where to get painted pumpkins, festive mums or vintage furniture.

(My Kind of) Church Punch
Makes 18-24 servings

2 quarts lime-mint sorbet or sherbet (make it yourself or buy a lime sorbet and add chopped mint)
1 quart pineapple juice
1 quart white grape juice
1 quart orange juice
1/2 bottle (750 ml) citrus or regular vodka
2 bottles (750 ml) slightly sweet sparkling wine (a prosecco would work well)

Scoop sorbet into bottom of a punch bowl. Add juice and vodka, top with sparkling wine. Wait until it gets frothy and let guests serve themselves or, for a more elegant presentation, scoop a small amount of sorbet into individual glasses and top with combined juices & vodka, then sparkling wine.

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