This is the year to experiment with new ways of dining and serving your attendees.

After what has seemed like an eternity, we are all ready to celebrate being back together. Thankfully we have the next few months to plan a safe and memorable holiday party. Early planning will be the key to a successful 2021 event. To make your holiday planning easier we have compiled our favorite list of ideas for in-person and virtual:


Consider smaller events or break-out groups

Each of your attendees likely has a different emotion around gathering in person. In order to make everyone feel as comfortable and safe as possible consider smaller events. You can offer smaller events per department or create breakout groups in a larger group setting. 

You could also gauge your group’s comfort level by sending out a survey prior to beginning planning. This will allow your attendees to feel heard and better enable you to determine the size and possible break-out groups. Who says you can’t offer an in-person event for those who want it and a virtual one for those who prefer to stay at home or are unable to travel.

Think open, airy, and well ventilated

Who doesn’t love al fresco dining? Even if you are in an area with not-so-perfect weather, you can utilize heaters, large fire pits, and blankets for each guest. However, make sure to communicate prior to the setting for the event so your attendees to properly dress.

Make sure to kick it up a notch with festive décor. We always recommend a nontraditional route to be considerate of all attendees. A winter wonderland of blues, silver, and white sounds like a cozy and festive way to celebrate each other in 2021 to us.

Skip the buffet or family-style meals.

This is the year to experiment with new ways of dining and serving your attendees. Consider hors d’oeuvres bento boxes, picnic baskets for 2, opt-in for food and beverage pairings, or individual tapas. Consider smaller bistro tables for 4 rather than large communal tables. Don’t forget parting gifts of individual wrapped desserts or cookies. A great local LA favorite is

Go green

Sustainability and being environmentally conscious is a social issue that is on the minds of many people. Efforts to go green can easily go hand in hand with precautionary measures to limit the spread of Covid. Opting in for linen napkins and reusable dishware will not only limit the spread of Covid but will provide an elevated and green experience to your attendees (and limit food waste from the buffet).


Having in-person events may not be for everyone this year. We understand your attendees may not want to sit on another zoom call so consider ways to get them out of their home office (or off their couch) and into the kitchen or up and moving around.

Cooking Events

We all love to connect over food and this year doesn’t have to be any different. With the many available food delivery services—there is a meal and experience for every budget. Calling all amateur food network chefs. Perhaps you send a key ingredient to each attendee and offer a prize for the most unique dish created from that ingredient. 

We also understand families have spent a lot more time together these past 19 months so why not send a meal for 2–4? Our favorite is Lawry’s Prime Rib feasts. This can be an interactive cooking experience with their chef or a do-it-yourself evening. Either way, your attendees are sure to love it and have an exceptional meal. You can find more at


Everyone needs a little more self-care in their life. This could be a great way to give your team an opportunity to learn how to recharge their batteries and reset. You could offer sign-ups for your attendees to participate in (remember, self-care looks different for everyone). Maybe it is a virtual yoga class, candle-making kit, live meditation session complete with essential oils, and an eye mask.

With the amount of time spent on camera, helping your team discover a new skincare regimen is a great way to show your appreciation. Have your team take their custom skin quiz at and send them their custom skincare regimen to help them feel their best on zoom.

Dinner and a Movie

Send each one of your team members a code for $40 in DoorDash delivery (or even better partner directly with a local restaurant) and credit for an at-home movie rental.

Gift Exchange

Gift exchange is always a welcomed and fun holiday event. We recommend utilizing the free services of an online secret Santa generator such as Elfster, You could do a pre wine tasting or simply tell everyone to grab their favorite beverage and settle in for a night of opening fun and thoughtful gifts from their coworkers. Elfster has the ability for attendees to load in gift ideas so no more guessing games.

Whatever you decide to plan this year for your team, whether in person and virtual it will be welcomed with open arms from your team. We are all ready to be back together and appreciate the ones around us.

Monica Challingsworth, founder, and president of Huntington Beach, California-based Eustress + Demeter has been an expert in hospitality, leadership, and sales for more than 14 years. She’s curated a record $40+ million in catering sales alone, working with restaurants ranging from individual locations to nationwide chains. Eustress + Demeter has successfully designed, implemented, and executed extremely successful sales and marketing programs for some of the top names in hospitality and private equity. The consultancy is committed to developing powerful relationships customized to the sustainable financial success of each of its clientele.

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