The festive season is in full swing, marking a time to eat, drink, and be merry. Event organisers who are ringing out the old and ringing in the new want to ensure their soirees stand out from the crowd.
Indeed, the familiar face of the corporate Christmas party has transformed significantly in recent times.
Less popular are tried-and-tested tropes such as venues decked out in rich reds and golds, lavishly decorated trees, and sit-down banquets laden with rich festive fare. Instead, organisers are following consumer trends as they strive to produce events with as much fizz as the holiday bubbly.
“It’s becoming more challenging to create a unique festive event as people have seen it all,” said Anita Zaror, principal/founder of Thailand-based agency Anita Zaror PR. Zaror has helped design seasonal events for a variety of clients, including the Chilean National Tourism Service and AGFA.
“Nowadays we don’t just seek high event attendance,” Zaror said, “but also attendee engagement and conversations through social media that will keep the brand trending even after the party is over.”
Zaror recommended hiring a good photographer, placing a branded backdrop with good lighting at the venue entrance (where guests will want to take photos), and creating a dedicated event hashtag to encourage guests to share photos on social media.
Food has typically been a centrepiece of festive parties, and that remains the case. But organisers are breaking with tradition by introducing theatrical culinary concepts and drawing on hip gastro trends, such as street-food-inspired canapes and food trucks to add interest.
Use of an anti-griddle — a kitchen appliance that flash-freezes or semi-freezes foods placed on its chilled metal top — has proved a popular feature at events, producing instant desserts for guests. The device has been utilised successfully by big names in event catering such as Bompas & Parr.
Zaror also cited a move towards smaller bites at festive events, with popular nibbles such as sushi, steamed bao buns, and Korean fried chicken among the trending finger foods.
Healthy living is increasingly high on the agenda of event professionals. The global trend towards mindfulness and wellbeing loom large in the minds of organisers, who are now intentionally tempering the indulgence factor at events during the holiday seasons. Zaror said organisers are also increasingly conscious of the need to cater for different dietary requirements.
Event planners are addressing this in several ways, such as creating forms for attendees to fill out along with pre-registration information including a check-box section for food allergies and preferences.
Similar care must be taken to cater to cultural and religious sensitivities in different countries around Asia.
“Skip the beef in Hindu countries, skip the pork in Muslim nations, and skip being frowned upon wherever you are,” advised Zaror. “Similar care should be shown by offering high- quality non-alcoholic drinks beyond water, especially in Muslim countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, where alcohol is frowned upon by many.”
Decorative trends can also help boost the party vibe at end-of-year celebrations. In vogue styling tips are heavily influenced by the rise of social media. Vorarat Charoonsmith of Thailand-based Kool Agency advised incorporating Instagram-friendly props or features that encourage guests to interact with each other — and the event theme. He cites features such as social frames, cartoon cut-outs, giant cakes, and popcorn stations as share worthy additions to events he has helped organise.