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The coming months are traditionally the busiest for restaurants, hotels and caterers as the party season enters into full swing. Whether your business is a bustling bar or a mobile catering company, you’re likely to be in the midst of finalising the party bookings that will have a huge impact on your end of year sales.

On the menu for the blog today is a little look at what people will be eating and drinking at those parties this year, as we examine some of the big trends for food and drinks, venues and entertainment for Christmas 2014. First up, festive fare…

Food

turkey

Christmas party menus are usually a good indication of the big food favourites of the year and 2014 is no different. Menu choices have been infiltrated by a strong heritage and DIY food vibe with the usual starters like soup and smoked salmon joined by game and other smoked and cured options. Think cured bacon, smoked duck or chicken, tasty terrines of pheasant and less ‘fancy’ but full of flavour fishes like smoked mackerel used in pates or potted.

Turkey reigns supreme when it comes to Christmas party main courses and the turkey crown (ahem) will likely stay in place for many decades to come. However, there do seem to be more diverse choices emerging when it comes to the main event and Asian fusion food has emerged as a staple on several of the big chains fixed menus. Also well represented is this year’s trend for slow cooking with lots of restaurants offering slow cooked or braised beef, ham hock and pulled pork as alternatives to the traditional turkey. Where steak and chips makes an appearance, you can be sure a flavoured butter is not far behind. Risotto and cheese tarts seem to be still somewhat over present as the vegetarian option, though it’s nice to see an alternative to nut roast. Speaking of vegetables, pumpkin is the surprise star of lots of Christmas menu dishes this time round.

The humble fruit crumble is very much making a comeback when it comes to desserts with many restaurants offering festive spiced options on their menus and almond inspired desserts like frangipane and bakewell tarts seem to be another top choice along with twists on the Eton Mess. Staying put from past years are crowd-pleasing cheesecake and brownies and for those who want to skip dessert in favour of liquid refreshment, dessert cocktails have made their way onto many a menu.

Serving style

It’s now fairly standard practice to charge less for lunch party menu bookings, which is a great way to attract office party groups who want to avoid hangovers and be home in time to pick up the kids. It also ensures you are busy throughout the day. Hot and cold buffets remain popular, however, many venues are now giving the option to serve these up canapé style. These tend to be for menus that go beyond egg and cress sandwiches, though we happen to think most things taste better if they’re cut up really small and served to us on a silver tray.

Drinks

mulledwine

We’ll be looking at drink trends for next year very shortly and we’ve already mentioned the dessert cocktail but there is another trend worth ‘mulling’ over when it comes to washing down the turkey. Spiced, mulled drinks are going beyond the traditional gluhweine, so expect to see syrups in cocktails and plenty of warming scented cider as fancy does battle with comforting.

Venue and atmosphere

All-inclusive packages have long been popular for the office party and they are very much still in demand. That said, in recent years we have seen a shift by some to a more DIY approach as organisations try to take greater control of the elements that make their annual event special This means caterers are very much in demand and we’re seeing parties take place in more unusual venues too. From hiring out art galleries and caves through to creating a festive festival vibe in yurts and tepees complete with fairy lights and fire pits, customers aren’t afraid to step out of the confines of bars and restaurants. With this in mind, caterers who haven’t buddied up with venues or party planners this year may want to explore their options for next year.

Those looking for an intimate and luxurious party feel are choosing private dining, which doesn’t need to be stratospherically expensive to achieve an exclusive impression, this GQ article rounds up some of London’s offerings. Venues looking to create a different experience are looking at ways to allow customers to tailor their evenings – offering the likes of post-dinner cocktail classes and bean to brew talks over the coffee and after dinner mints.

How are you making your Christmas party offering stand out from the crowd? Have you noticed any trends in menu requests or bookings this year? Feel free to share your experiences with us below.


Comments

Lockhart Catering on 14 November 2014 9:33 AM

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