From owner to host Featured

6:05am EDT October 3, 2005
It’s that time of year again, when CEOs and corporate event managers begin planning for the annual corporate holiday party.

For those who find organizing this shindig more of a chore than a pleasure, Brendan Ring, owner of Nighttown, a jazz club that often caters to private parties, offers some cost- and sanity-saving suggestions.

  •  The CEO knows. Are your employees the five-course-dinner type or an hors-d’oeuvres-at-the-bar kind of crowd? Is the party meant to reward employees, allow networking or act as a social gathering?
    “You need to establish that going in,” Ring says. “That will say a lot about how the party goes and what kind of party you have.”

  •  Wellness program. “One of the problems with corporate parties is it’s kind of a free-for-all with alcohol, and silly things end up happening. The later it goes, the sillier it gets,” he says.
    Ring suggests serving only beer and wine, which “seems to be a bit more civilized. When the shots start flowing, some (parties) can get pretty raucous. ... People end up back in the office, regretting it the next day.”

  •  HR issues. Ring suggests using one server per 10 people.
    “The client should be comfortable with the amount of staff that they feel are going to be taking care of their party, because it’s a once-a-year shot and you’ve got to get it right that night,” he says.

  •  Fun with finances. If the company is on a budget, Ring says many restaurant owners will give discounts for luncheons or parties planned for off-nights (not a Friday or Saturday), as well as parties in late November or early January.
    Ring also offers this insider tip: Restaurants are usually open the last weekend before Christmas and are actively looking for business.

And finally, Ring says, companies with special requests just need to ask.

“Restaurants, for the most part, particularly in the competitive culture we’re in right now, are willing to deal,” he says. “Everything is negotiable. Don’t accept the first price. We will definitely deal with people.”