It’s time to plan your holiday party. And whether you’re holding a gathering in your home or throwing a corporate shindig, do yourself a favor and let the local experts lead the way. Here’s where to start:
Angela Kaiser, a sales manager at Deerfield in Newark, advises to secure your venue sooner rather than later if you’re holding the party on a Friday or Saturday during the holiday season. Those days, for obvious reasons, tend to book in advance.
Deerfield’s large ballroom is the perfect site for larger parties, while three smaller rooms can be used together or separately, accommodating a range from 25 people up to 400.
If you can’t book a site before the holidays, don’t fret. Kaiser says a trend has been for companies to hold holiday celebrations in January because everyone is so busy leading up to the New Year.
“I think it’s appreciated by the attendees,” Kaiser says. “It gives them something to look forward to after the hubbub.”
Deerfield’s holiday packages are available through January. They are all-inclusive at a per-person price, but they can be tweaked, she says.
Deerfield offers a buffet, served meals, stations or heavy hors d’oeuvres. The heavy hors d’oeuvres are more popular during the holidays because people are moving around mingling, Kaiser says.
To make your event more festive, Kaiser recommends adding a signature drink. Deerfield’s is called a Poinsettia, and features champagne with a splash of cranberry juice. Deerfield also offers a signature dessert: bread pudding with a warm Irish whiskey sauce.
As for ambiance, Kaiser recommends upgrading to linens to make the event more stylish.
“Linens can really change the feel of the room,” she says.
Other ways to establish a festive holiday theme, Kaiser says, is to bring in carolers or have Santa Claus hand out gifts and pose for photo ops.
If you’d rather party at your favorite restaurant, again, be sure not to delay when it comes to reservations. If the budget is tight, note that a luncheon is cheaper than a dinner party at restaurants like Lamberti’s Cucina along Centerville Road in Wilmington, according to chef-manager Gianni Caranante. A three-hour party includes a main course, water, soft drinks, coffee, tea, bread and dessert. Lamberti’s features a larger room that accommodates 40 to 85 people and a smaller room that holds 25 to 40. A $100 deposit is required.
Page 2: Oh, What to Drink?
Pete Missimer, manager at Premier Wine & Spirits’ Limestone Road location, needs the facts before he can help you prepare your bar. The first questions he asks is how many people are invited and whether you’re serving beer, wine and spirits or limiting it to beer and wine.
He also needs to know how long the party is scheduled to last. “They know their crowd hopefully better than I do,” Missimer says. “We need to know if there are big drinkers.” Missimer says the typical person drinks two beverages the first hour, then one every hour after.
Finally, Missimer looks at the customer’s budget and uses formulas to produce the final figures.
For example, he knows that a 1.5-liter bottle of wine yields 12 servings while a 750-liter bottle serves six.
“It’s important to know if a caterer is involved,” he says. “If it’s a larger party and they’re pouring quickly, the size of the wine bottle is important. It’s tougher to pour from large bottles.”
Beer can be purchased by the case (24 cans or bottles), a quarter keg (equal to 3.5 cases) and a half keg (seven cases). He says spirits are most commonly purchased by the half-gallon. A 1.75-liter bottle yields about 36 drinks.
A portion calculator is available on the store’s Web site to provide guidance, but Missimer says you should always consult someone who’s been in the business a while.
Missimer has a final tip that could help you along the way. “Many places allow you to return unopened bottles and full cases of beer,” he says. “That makes people feel more comfortable when they’re purchasing.”
Page 3: Making it Sweeter
Serpe & Sons Bakery in Elsmere has been a popular choice during the holidays for obvious reasons: Its goodies look and taste great.
The bakery will fulfill all of your dessert and snack needs with cakes, pastry and cookie trays and, of course, fresh rolls for sandwiches.
Popular holiday-time pastries include mini-eclairs, cannoli, cream puffs and petit fors, says owner Dominick Serpe. But pepperoni bread and spinach bread are right there, too.
At Thanksgiving, trays of cookies baked in the shape of a turkey are hot sellers. Pumpkin pies are the top choice with apple pie second.
Perhaps the bakery’s most popular item is its pumpkin roll, a swirling log cake with cream cheese in the middle.
Page 5: Resources
Cape May-Lewes Ferry
43 Cape Henlopen Drive, Lewes
507 Thompson Station Road
Hagley Museum and Library
298 Buck Road East
100 Continental Drive
1300 Centerville Road
514 Philadelphia Pike
Okura Japanese Cuisine Restaurant
703 Ace Memorial Drive
Premier Wine & Spirits
2052 Limestone Road
2 W. Market St.
Serpe & Sons Bakery
1411 Kirkwood Hwy., Elsmere
Shoppes at Louviers
665 Paper Mill Road, Newark
The Stone Balloon Winehouse
115 E. Main St., Newark
University & Whist Club
805 N. Broom St., Wilmington
Waterfall Banquet Hall
3416 Philadelphia Pike, Claymont