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Holiday Tips, Trends, and Ideas

With over 20 years of experience in the event and hospitality industry, Arthur Backal, CEO of Backal Management Group, has spearheaded events at some of New York City’s most renowned hotels and restaurants including The Plaza, Mandarin Oriental, Cipriani, St. Regis, Waldorf-Astoria, and The Rainbow Room. His company also manages events at Apella, Event Space at the Alexandria Center on East 29th Street. 

With the holidays fast approaching, Backal put together thoughts on holiday trends, tips, and ideas for you to consider when pitching clients. 

Set-up & décor

Winter themed rather than holiday themed. As diversity in the population continues to grow, in recent years Apella has seen a trend toward neutral winter décor rather than specific holiday décor, especially at corporate holiday parties. 


Mason jars. This ubiquitous vessel is still the trendiest accessory, tableware, decoration, and container. They can be used for food presentation such as layering salads, desserts, or candy displays. Mason jars can also be used for flower arrangements or floating candle setups. You can paint them mosaic-style or layer colored rice in the theme of your event.


Themes. Gatsby is out. With this years’ major action-hero blockbusters including The Avengers - Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Fantastic Four, and others, Comicon themed parties are in! Everyone loves a super hero.


Food & beverage

Trend toward food fair/Smorgasburg-inspired events. This trend was so hot this summer that we predict it will carry into winter events as well with indoor food carts. You can create a food hall atmosphere inspired by Eataly and Le District. International cuisine continues to be a hit at events.


Craft beer, craft cocktails, craft catering. This trend is expanding to corporate parties and events. However, Apella prefers the term “local” instead of “craft” to support local farmers, brewers, and wineries. Corporate events are starting to have local grower tastings and FSA events.


Glassware. Instead of using the same champagne flute and glassware, change up all the sizes and colors to give more variety and eye appeal for your holiday event. Put away your clear glasses and bring in a mixture of colorful containers in different sizes. Display glass vases in varying shades of the same color sitting on your window ledge. Use a variety of colors and patterns of napkins and tablecloths and tie it together with coordinating centerpieces. 


Food stations. Instead of traditional dessert, go with something lighter and more interactive such as a hot chocolate and holiday cookie bar.  


Hire a photographer. As social media becomes more and more of a priority, it’s important to have quality photos to share on the company’s social networking pages as well as have attendees share personally. Employing a photographer with the ability to post directly to social media during the event very trendy.


Plan ahead and book early. This should be the mantra you provide to all prospective clients. Let them know there are only so many days between Thanksgiving and Christmas and prime dates at great venues book up fast.


Consider a Sunday brunch. Being venues are traditionally less expensive on a Sunday during the day let your clients know that a Sunday brunch is a cost-effective way to host an event. Sunday brunch is also a great opportunity to create an exotic brunch bar—perhaps a Rosemary Eggnog?


Get Fresh September 2015
eNews September 2015


Kathleen Stoehr

Kathleen Stoehr is the Director of Community & Content Strategy for Informa Connect | Catersource and Special Events magazines, including all digital content for both websites and e-newsletter products. She also vets, hires, guides and coordinates all live education at Catersource Conference & Tradeshow, Art of Catering Food, Leading Caterers of America Executive Summit, and bridge content at The Special Event.