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PARTY SAVERS Experts offer advice on creating a holiday event that inspires visions of sugar plums — and better By ERIN THORBURN


or a few years in corporate holiday culture, largely due to the recession, chestnuts were left to roast and gone was the traditional champagne toast. A study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2015 showed that 30 percent of companies declined to host any kind of holiday party. Don’t blame it on coal in the stockings of HR employees. Cast responsibility on the recession. And, even though the economy has improved as 2017 wraps up and the corporate planning scene appears to be experiencing a Renaissance, budgets and time constraints still pose real restraints for many. So how do the Valley’s holiday hosts recommend reviving the holiday spirit without draining company resources? Nix the nog “Alcohol consumption is often underestimated,” cautions Paul Rossi, director of food and beverage for the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa. If removing alcohol from the menu seems too Scrooge-like, there are options to help keep the booze budget from skyrocketing. For example, Rossi suggests exclusively offering beer and wine rather than a full bar. Another means of keeping alcohol consumption under control is providing drink tickets for guests. Distributing two drink tickets per guest (or even couple) can significantly reduce the bill for booze. Simply having a discussion with the venue point person can also help to limit gray areas. “We prepare a detailed cost sheet for the planner and estimate a higher number of drinks per person, so there are no big surprises with the final bill,” Rossi says.   Be adventurous with your advent calendar There are other ways to maximize corporate holiday party cost savings.


AB | November - December 2017

“One of the ways that companies can still recognize their employees and celebrate the holidays would be to host a holiday luncheon,” says Melanie Volkers, director of sales and marketing for the Hermosa Inn. “Not only is it more costeffective than a dinner, it’s also beneficial to the employees since it doesn’t interfere with their personal time since it can be held during work hours.” Being flexible, not only with the timing of a corporate holiday party but with dates is another tactic for which experts unanimously agree can be a budget saver. “January and February are more affordable months to throw a holiday party,” says Lee Smith, Hotel Valley Ho’s director

Stephanie Quincy

Paul Rossi

of catering and conference services. “While not traditional, we are seeing more and more companies go this route. It’s a fun way to kick off the New Year and also helps eliminate conflicting dates on a busy holiday calendar.” If the idea of managing mistletoe beyond the traditional festive months is too taxing, there are still ways to be creative when it comes to the calendar – even if booking a venue outside of the recommended six-to-nine month, holidaybooking window. “If you are flexible and can consider a weekday, you can wait a bit longer to book,” Volkers says. “We always have a push to re-sign our holiday clients in January and

Lee Smith

Melanie Volkers

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