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Corporate Christmas Parties Combine Cocktails, Comfort Food

Mini burgers remain popular on holiday party menus.
Mini burgers remain popular on holiday party menus.
Photo: Courtesy of Catering by Davids\'
Christmas is making a comeback in 2007. Local businesses are splurging on their office gigs this year, offering interesting menu items and paying close attention to every detail, right down to the invitations and lighting. We asked event planners, designers, and caterers about the trends they've spotted during this bustling corporate party season. Here's what they had to say.

"They're coming back, Christmas parties, that's for sure. After SARS and 9/11, companies didn’t do Christmas parties anymore.... Christmas is coming back, and it’s being called Christmas again."
—Jeffry Roick, director, McNabb Roick Event Communications

"A huge trend is detailed and accent lighting, which elevates the look of an event. I think people are doing coordinated stationary so a theme is shown through an entire event, including the entertainment. Parties are taking on a more professional appearance instead of just being thrown together at the office."
—Tara O’Grady, executive director, Bliss Events

"Crystals are very hot right now, partially because of the opening of [the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal addition at] the ROM, and so are lots of lights and candlelit parties. Then there are Winter Wonderland-themed parties with a blue effect, a lot like the Sean Penn Into the Wild party we did at the film festival—people are going crazy for that."
—Craig Gruzd, creative director, Designing Trendz Inc.  "We're seeing a lot of cocktail parties. A lot of people are doing cocktail and food stations rather than plated meals. In terms of food style, we're seeing a lot of Asian influence in everything—there is a big focus on local produce, certainly, but people are adding some interesting international twists."
—Sebastien Centner, director, Eatertainment Special Events & Catering

"Food stations are not new, but they’re still popular. Food is such a hot thing with all the TV shows, and people want to watch the chef behind the station making things and working on the presentation. Comfort foods like mini burgers are still really popular. And desserts have become big again, with lots of little things, like mini cakes wrapped as presents."
—Kori Gorman, director of corporate, social, and event catering, Catering by Davids’

"People want to go more ethnic, and they’re not scared to go out on a limb. We’re doing a lot of Indian food, which seems to be a real trend. Also, braised foods like short ribs—it’s getting away from the traditional beef tenderloin. We’ve also noticed people are spending a lot of money this year, and we’re doing a lot of themed parties—for example, Cirque-themed. People want to get dressed up."
—David D’Aprile, owner, 10tation Event Catering
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