Whether you are the person in charge of putting together the annual party for employees or you are the one paying for it all, there are a few simple rules to follow for making things go smoothly and having a successful and affordable catered event. Of course, plan as far in advance as possible. It's certainly the busiest time of the year for business events and you don't want to find yourself locked out of the caterer or restaurant you had your heart set on.
Decide what type of food you want to serve - certain styles work better than others - and can affect the entire feeling of the event and the memories created, not to mention the cost. Unless you know that everyone - everyone - loves Thai or Indian food, avoid the taste extremes. But, it is a party so try to give people choices. They'll appreciate the fact that there's something they like.
Chinese food allows dozens of different tastes and people can go back for something different throughout the party. Have somebody letter a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays sign with oriental style lettering. Or, you might even be able to find an image on the internet that actually says it in Chinese.
A catered party with a Mexican theme allows employees and guests to enjoy a taco and, perhaps, an enchilada or fajita. It should be easy these days to find a Feliz Navidad streamer or banner in a local card shop or dollar store.
Finger foods and dishes that don't need to be cut up are ideal unless you're catering a sit-down event somewhere. They require less space and allow the guests to move around avoiding "department-clusters". Employees and guests can mix more, making it a generally more festive company-wide event.
There's a choice available now between traditional catering companies that come in with linens and staff and everything you need and a newer breed of "drop-off" caterers who are actually delivering catered items from your local restaurants. If you decide on using a "drop-off" catering company, just provide a table or tables for the food and the party is ready to begin.
The question of liquid refreshments at a catered Christmas party is one to be considered carefully. An open bar invites people to over indulge. It could also result in more moderate employees and guests being annoyed and having their celebration dampened.
A final though on this matter: the company which provided the adult beverages could be held liable if the employee is involved in an accident after leaving the party. Being the person in charge of putting together the office Christmas party does not have to be an onerous task. Just take it step by step, do all the planning as far in advance as possible, double check your suppliers a week or so ahead to make certain nothing fell through the cracks.
Hopefully everyone you're using will do their jobs and you'll be able to sit back, take the credit and enjoy the party.