Hosting a large holiday dinner for family or employees can be so overwhelming that many people opt for a restaurant or other public setting rather than a private home. While this takes some of the pressure off the host or hostess, planning a meal at a public venue for dozens of people has challenges of its own. Planning starts with visiting the dining facility in person and getting to know the people who will be serving and helping the event run smoothly. The caterers should be helpful, friendly, and willing to go the extra mile to make the event a memorable one.

If possible, the party planner should taste some of the more popular menu items to make sure they're really as good as they sound. He or she also needs to pay attention to details other than the food, such as whether the seating is comfortable and how many restrooms are available nearby. Since everyone has a different budget, it's important to get a cost estimate in writing so the person hosting the party isn't in for a shock when the final bill arrives.

How to Play the Perfect Host or Hostess

Hosting a dinner of this magnitude requires much advanced planning for the event to be a successful one. This starts by making a guest list and knowing as much about the invited guests as possible. It's helpful to jot down ages, interests, food preferences if known, and other tidbits of personal information about each guest in order to come up with the perfect theme for the event. Once that has been decided, it's time to mail out the invitations and let guests know the cut-off date for responding. Professional caterers typically recommend a window of three to four weeks.

In addition to the date and time of the event, guests also need to know the address, directions, and any specific rules of the site hosting the dinner. It's also appropriate to provide information about nearby accommodations for guests who are traveling from out of town to attend the holiday event. Those hosting it should work on a seating arrangement once all of the RSVPs come in. To ensure that everyone has a chance to mingle, consider one long table for the main meal and a dessert table that guests must get up from their seat to access.

Current Trends in Corporate Holiday Parties

Planning a large holiday dinner away from home is challenging enough, but keeping up with trends from one year to the next makes it even more so. One trend to be aware of this holiday season is serving a lot of finger foods rather than a large meal. This allows guests to grab a bite to eat while continuing to mingle rather sitting down for the length of time it takes to eat a salad, main dish, and dessert. Small, uncommon foods are especially popular with guests since they are novel and not something they would eat every day.

It's also important to consider which beverages go well with the finger foods. Since mini-foods are all the rage at corporate holiday parties, many hosts and hostesses are also choosing to serve drinks in small, tastefully decorated glasses.

[Image Credit: ‘The Private Dining Room’ / Bistro Boudin]

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