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Menu Inspiration for Holiday Parties

Do you grow nostalgic when you think of the holidays, remembering all of the special dishes you likely only prepare once each year? Maybe you recall the sweet potatoes you piled high on brightly colored china when you were little, or your grandmother’s secret recipe cranberry sauce. Or, perhaps you come from a region with interesting or distinct ingredients and flavors. For me, for example, this time of the year simply isn’t the same without a New Orleans specialty: oyster dressing.

Creating unique and inspired menus for holiday parties is one of the privileges we as events professionals enjoy each year. Strike a balance between comfort and innovation. Keep things interesting for your clients and guests by presenting traditional-style holiday menus with a twist.

Unique & appealing menus

Warm, cozy, comfort food is the perfect match for wintery weather and plummeting temperatures. Put a spin on traditional event menus. Deck out your ham carving station with biscuits and an assortment of marmalades. Invite guests to prepare their own hot chocolate with a variety of toppings like fresh whipped cream, tiny marshmallows, or a shot of peppermint, or plan an educational (not to mention yummy) cider tasting experience. Traditional never has to be boring if you think outside the box.

Holiday seating styles

There is nothing quite like a sit-down dinner, family-style, to invoke memories of holidays past. Even larger events can be made to feel more intimate by seating guests together at a large table and passing dishes to share. As a bonus, family-style seating allows clients to select a variety of proteins and sides instead of limiting them with a plated dinner menu.

For something totally different, you can never go wrong with a cocktail-style reception and mixed high- and low-top tables. Offer passed small bites and an interactive station like cookie decorating with an assortment of colorful and delicious toppings.

Holiday season décor

Don’t feel obligated to stick with traditional red and green linens and decorations. At an oyster-themed holiday party, we used shells as ornaments and place cards with guest names in calligraphy. They made great favors and are now part of each guest’s personal holiday treasure collection. Be courageous and embrace an element that is meaningful to your clients, and find a way to turn it into a theme for your holiday party décor.

Make the holidays your opportunity to conjure up a sentimental journey for your clients and their guests, while giving them a truly unique experience and memories to last a lifetime.

Join Emily Sullivan at Catersource 2019 in New Orleans when she presents on The Rise of Micro Weddings. Need menu inspiration? There will be plenty of that, too, February 24–27, 2019. Click here for session information and here to take you to registration.


Emily Sullivan

Owner, Emily Sullivan Events

Emily Sullivan is the owner of Emily Sullivan Events, a full-service wedding planning company based in New Orleans and serving couples everywhere.