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Sunday, Jun 4, 2023

What Makes A Successful Holiday Party?

By JUDI UTHUS Contributing Reporter Are you bah, humbug on the time, energy and money it takes to host a holiday party? Businesses large and small have found that the holiday party can be an investment into the new year, stimulating performance and employee loyalty. With a few guidelines, any employer or manager can plan a memorable holiday event that will work for them long after the decorations are down. What are the key essentials in creating a successful business bash? First, think outside the cubicle when planning your holiday party. A piece of cake at one’s desk isn’t going to cut it. “We believe in creating a year-end party that engages our employees so they know they are appreciated. It’s a chance to get everyone together in one space, especially those who work independently or in different teams,” says Arlene Post, spokesperson for the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, with four offices located throughout the west Los Angeles region. To assist with planning holiday events that get people out of the work environment, many businesses rely on experts to help them promote goodwill. Professional help can also recommend ideas that embrace the multicultural workplace and the different ways that individuals celebrate. “Creative decorations or themes get everyone in the spirit,” says Catering Manager Sandy Leslie of Calabasas Inn, a business party destination for groups of 50 to 300 for over 25 years. “You can bring the look of snow indoors with props or incorporate colors suggestive of the season. White, powder blue, gold, cream, and maroon are great choices for floral or table decorations,” she suggests. For industries, such as real estate and insurance, that often benefit from parties that include staff, clients and outside vendors, adding activities is a great way to get people mingling. Leslie says that casino games and murder mysteries are two popular ideas on this season’s scene. “They bring everyone together for a fun evening while building relations among key groups,” she explains. Food, of course, is also an essential ingredient to any holiday party. Many businesses like to follow tradition and select a sit-down affair with menus offering turkey or prime rib, but with alternatives for special diets. “Business will arrange the menu with us before sending invitations,” says Leslie. “This way guests may select what they want, yet dine together in a formal setting.” For more casual year-end parties, there are several options that combine food and fun. Buffet menu themes are party pleasing while being economical. The Sagebrush Cantina, a popular Mexican restaurant located at the border of Woodland Hills/Calabasas specializes in catering events in the restaurant’s party tent or on location. “Gourmet buffets offering an international selection or something that looks festive like a taco bar are always a hit,” suggests General Manager Charlie Halstead. For businesses that want to put on a holiday bash for large groups, Halstead proposes that the guests create the fun. “Have them dress up to win contests or give away door prizes,” he recommends. “These are great ice breakers that bring people together and add to a company event.” Whether employees come in for a department group lunch with gift exchange or to join 600 guests at a tent party, Halstead sees similar reactions. “Holiday parties give people an opportunity to express themselves with co-workers. They’ll have a new attitude toward their peers.” If you have a location suited for entertaining or want to rent an unusual setting such as a museum, festive catering ideas can be brought to you, says Halstead. These include cocktail and/or appetizer parties, theme buffets, martini bars or even a formally served, multi-course meal. When it’s time to prepare the guest list, there are guidelines to follow for the different types of holiday parties. Staff-only parties should be workday events usually held during lunch or in the latter part of the work shift. Weekend events or dinner parties should include spouses or dates, giving businesses an opportunity to acknowledge their support, too. A party mix of staff, clients and outside vendors works best when held at the end of the work day or in the evening, allowing guests a window for arrival. Some businesses now opt for parties out of the traditional mid-December time frame. “Parties in the later part of November or during the last week of December are increasing in popularity,” reports Leslie. “They are less expensive to host and at a time when people are more relaxed and can look forward to them. For example, doing a January kick-off party instead of a peak season holiday party is a great way to get staff motivated for the new year.”

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