What’s on your holiday party agenda? Whether this year’s celebration is large or small, fancy or funky, guests appreciate, and notice, the thoughtful details that go the extra mile in delivering an enhanced sense of occasion.
Here are a 12 ideas to spark the holiday spirit:
Set The Scene
Style the party sleek and contemporary or opt for the timeless look of old-fashioned rustic elegance. Marvelle Events, a boutique event planning and specialty rentals firm, has a huge selection of indoor/outdoor accent pieces and seasonal vintage props — skis, sleds, skates, snowshoes and more — for an après-ski holiday chalet mood. The company’s antique lounge collection adds a touch of Victorian romanticism to sitting areas and includes chairs that are Santa-photo perfect. Popular are its harvest tables, chairs, wine barrels and cute-as-a-button retro camper trailers that make awesome pop-up serving stations.
Embrace An Event
Centre your celebration around a holiday entertainment outing. The season is packed with lots of shows and activities to enjoy while offering a great way to involve families. The Toronto Christmas Market, the National Ballet of Canada’s The Nutcracker, The Wizard of Oz, this year’s pantomime from Ross Petty Productions, are just a few. Sponsorship is one way to gain VIP access. Or arrange for group tickets and a pre- or post-show gathering in an on-site hospitality room or a nearby venue.
Sing in the season with That Choir, a Toronto-based a cappella chamber choir. Founder and conductor Craig Pike leads the voices of over 25 singers in a high-energy performance that combines storytelling through choral music. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, That Choir offers private performances in addition to its seasonal concert series and public appearances. Festive presentations of carols and holiday music are customizable in length and ensemble sizes of four to 12 singers. The entire choir is also available.
No winter wonderland theme is complete without a little skating action. Glisse on Ice delivers with unique choreographed skating shows performed on their own portable synthetic surfaces, scaled to size and budget. Have the beautifully costumed dancing skaters be the main entertainment or incorporate them for visual interest and movement throughout the room. We love the Snow Queen twirling away on her own patch of ice inside a giant snow globe. Glisse can also co-ordinate company skating parties. The company can set up its “ice” anywhere, including at the office, or provide certified skate Canada coaches to your gathering at a local rink where they’ll animate the crowd with their on-ice skills and give guests a tip or two.
’Tisn’t the season without chocolate, whether it’s for gifting, eating or serving. Mary’s Brigadeiro is a Toronto-based chocolate artisan specializing in brigadeiros, a signature confection of Brazil. Truffle-like in appearance, each bite-size sweet is handcrafted using Belgian chocolate, infused with unique flavours and hand-rolled in premium toppings such as nuts, dried fruits, shaved chocolate and sprinkles. Candy cane, mocha gingerbread and pumpkin spice are among the holiday flavours. The white pearl brigadeiro, with its gleaming pearl crisps encasing white chocolate, is especially winter elegant. Available in a range of gift box sizes, the company can also cater for event sweet tables.
Play Their Song
Invite party guests to get their jam on with uRequest Live, an interactive touch-screen “jukebox” kiosk pre-loaded with songs that the audience can ask the live 10-piece stage band to play. The more a song is requested, the higher it goes on the must-play list that the band tracks via on-stage iPads. Guests can also search and request songs from a special URL they enter into their smartphones plus send the band real-time messages, shout outs and dedications. With a repertoire spanning all genres, all of the band’s sets can be request-interactive or schedule the request sessions in half-hour segments at various times throughout the event.
Toast the holidays using False Ox botanical shrubs. Handcrafted by two Torontonians, shrubs are drinking vinegar concentrates – good for the gut — made with a refreshing balance of tartness and sweetness. Available in some wild flavours, add a shrub of choice to soda or mineral water for stylish mocktails, or mix with spirits for an innovative signature cocktail. The company offers great festive drink recipes plus a pop-up mixology bar that will soon include shrub cocktails on tap. They also wholesale bottles with minimum order including their line of switchels, a natural hydrating drink made from organic apple cider vinegar that might come in handy the morning after the holiday party.
There are loads of terrific trinkets and things to fill a holiday loot bag or gift as an event thank you. But we like socks. Who can’t use another pair of socks, especially ones that make stylishly fun, colourful statements? Canadian company Yo Sox specializes in personality-plus novelty socks. Its ever-changing collections are filled with clever designs and are available in all lengths, from footlets and crew socks to knee-highs and athletic socks, for men and women. The holiday line sporting funky, festive graphics is out soon. You can also gift a sock-of-the-month club subscription, or, with a minimum 600-pair order, work with the firm’s in-house team to custom design your own event-themed socks.
Stage the party around a crafting activity that gifts guests with take-home décor. Bloom School, sister company of Toronto florist Blush & Bloom, hosts wreath-making workshops for groups of up to 20 in their studio or they’ll bring the materials, tools and instruction to a venue of your choice. Choose a workshop format and wreath size according to time, number of participants and budget. There’s a DIY start-to-finish session, or crafters can focus their talent on decorating pre-made wreaths, or they can simply choose the ribbon and accents for a custom piece the pros put together. The largest wreath is 8-ft. in diameter, which makes for an excellent teambuilding project that everyone can work on and hang back in the office.
Gotta Have Turkey
Sure you can go fancy in the catering department, but sometimes it’s hard to beat an old-fashioned turkey dinner – like Mom makes — to best capture that timeless taste of the holidays. L-eat Catering’s The Great Gobbler menu makes it easy. Designed as a year-round order and pick-up service for in-home dining, turkey with all the fixings is also available for corporate and in-office lunch events. The food is delivered hot in disposable, ready-to serve platters and containers for family or buffet-style dining. The no-fuss, no-muss menu includes roast carved turkey, gravy, dinner rolls, cranberry orange sauce and a choice of four traditional sides. L-eat, of course, also custom-creates holiday menus.
Holiday events involve lots of arrangements, wreaths, garlands and pots and pots of poinsettias. Once an event is complete, consider paying the floral décor forward by donating it to The Violet Heart Project. Founded by a group of top-industry pros, the registered not-for-profit organization picks up event florals, restyles them into smaller arrangements, delivers them to hospitals, hospices and long-term care facilities and then collects them for proper composting. There is a donation fee, which is channeled back into the VHP’s operating costs. In return, donors receive a downloadable email banner recognition, a thank you letter and photos of the floral delivery for sharing on social media.
Hire A Ride
Often the best way to ensure guests get to and from your holiday event safely is to provide the transportation. There are loads of options: limos, buses, taxis, Uber and, now, Lyft Toronto. Launched last December, Lyft is a ride-sharing app similar to Uber. Lyft Events lets hosts purchase a unique code for their event date and location and set a budget based on the number of attendees and dollar amount per person. The code is shared with guests along with how-to-request-a-ride instructions. Once the code expires, hosts receive a refund for the unused amount.