The Party Line

Relaxed Rules
While holiday parties may be a tradition, many of today’s events are anything but traditional. There’s a movement away from formality, says Adam Guy, owner of Upper Crust Catering.

“We’re seeing a lot more people doing a fun mingling party atmosphere, as opposed to a sit-down meal,” Guy says.

These “appetizer receptions,” as Guy calls them, might include chef-attended stations, where you might have one station with a chef preparing made-to-order Maryland crab cakes and another that’s a tenderloin carving station.

“These parties with appetizer receptions encourage people to interact,” he says.

Guy thinks this type of party is gaining popularity because the holidays are such a busy time.

“It allows people to come and go. You can come anytime; you don’t have to be there at a specific time for dinner,” he says.

Anne Churchill, owner of Annabelle Events, says these types of parties — with food stations and light appetizers — are less time-consuming, something attendees appreciate during the hectic holiday season.

“They’re friendlier on the budget, too,” she adds.

Setup for Socializing
Chandra Valentine, sales director of bleu events, says that people want to be up and about socializing, especially in this age of social media, where they are sharing their experiences via Facebook, Snapchat and the like.

“We’re seeing a lot more food stations and unique displays, interactive stations,” Valentine says.

She says that bleu events works hard to create unique and inventive food displays, offering customers unusual interactive options such as a “floating plate wall” and a “velcro wall” with attachable serving dishes.

“Everyone eats with their eyes first, so we try to get away from the traditional ‘cheese on a plate,’” she explains.

photo by Justin Kelly Photography

Twists on Traditional
Churchill agrees that people are getting more adventurous with their presentations and décor, but not always with the food itself.

“I find people aren’t too adventurous; they like the traditional. People may pick one or two things that are a little different, but they’re more adventurous in décor and favors, music, where they bring in a theme.”

Valentine, too, says that many of bleu events’ customers want to stick with the tried and true, familiar foods. But she says bleu likes to put a twist on things.

“For example, we did our take on chicken and waffles and made them into a bite. We served them with a pipette of maple bourbon syrup. We like to take things that people are used to and put a little twist on it.”

Inclusive Foods
Valentine says that catering companies these days are increasingly being asked to cater to the different dietary needs of diners. She also says that bleu makes sure its offerings are inclusive and don’t make anyone feel like a second-class citizen.

“We don’t want someone that’s vegetarian or vegan to feel like there’s not much for them to eat,” she says.

Churchill agrees, saying, “I’ve been amazed with a lot of our events that people are able to make almost anything gluten-free or vegetarian unless, of course, it’s a beef or chicken dish.”