How To Turn Your Office Into a Party Zone
Posted in — Apr 03, 2015
At FINE, we like to party. And, bonus, we have a kick ass space to do it in. With countless events throughout the year, we like to keep our overhead low while still showing off our style, so we host in our office.
Here, I'll share my tips + tricks for turning your office space into a “party zone” too. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take too much work or too much money. It just takes creative energy, a few helping hands and a bunch of cheese.
Food is the most important ingredient to a successful bash. I like to work with four basic food groups: veggies, fruit, cheese/charcuterie, and sweets.
You can opt for “party platters”, but I recommend making your own because they’re ‘spensive, the veggies aren’t as fresh, and your selection is limited.
Start with cucumber and think about how to slice so that they won’t slip out of your guests’ hands. Cucumbers are super hydrating and act as a glorious palette cleanser-- perfect to accompany an evening of “socializing”. Grab some snap peas too. They’re sweet, crispy, and there’s no slicing involved. Then look for organic baby tomato “medleys” with a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. These beautify a veggie plate. You’ll also want the OGs of veggie trays - broccoli and cauliflower. Get fun colors if in-season, like purple, orange, and green. Cut them up in little trees.
You’re going to need some dips for those veggies. The KISS rule applies here: Keep It Stupidly Simple. Pick up (or make) hummus. Mix veggie dip packets with greek yogurt (skip the sour cream and fatty ranch), and boom - you are done. I make two cereal bowl sizes of each, but scale, of course, depending on how many guests you invite.
Fruit is an excellent party food. It’s pretty, sweet, and displays well. Including fruit in your menu cuts your costs on dessert while giving guests a natural sugar boost. Go for strawberries, grapes, and pineapple. I try to stay away from fruits that brown over time once sliced, or ultra juicy fruit. Display fruit alongside your dessert or dispersed within. Book end the display with ice buckets filled with mini bottles of bubbly.
Cheese and Charcuterie:
Gouda, goat, brie, sharp cheddar, havarti.
Slice the harder cheeses in shapes of your choice (I prefer triangles). Arrange beautifully on a cutting board or plate.
Veer away from meat trays and lunch meats and make your own. Visit the deli or cured meats area of your favorite store and pick two to three varieties of salami (if pre-sliced, that’s a bonus) and a few packages of prosciutto. You don’t need much of the rich and salty snacks.
Get three options: pita chips, baguette, and crackers. It’s also nice to include a rice cracker for our gluten-free friends.
For dessert, stick with straight-forward finger food: mini cupcakes, mini cookies, and brownies.
I love pretty things. For parties, you need the right display dishes. Invest in dishes from cool, inexpensive places like CB2, IKEA, your local thrift store, or hardware store. Hardware stores with “home and kitchen” sections are the bees knees for finding reasonably priced cutting boards and serving wear. Thrift stores are where you’ll find dessert tiers for pennies. For cheese and charcuterie, wooden cutting boards are amazing, and I usually put the charcuterie on its own to help vegetarians.
When using white modern dishes, identify the scene with a dry erase marker. No room on the dish? Use kraft butcher paper and write on the table using arrows as indicators. Also, provide plates, flatware, and napkins in multiple areas for your guests to prevent a bottleneck.
Your food table should be lit up. Dark food areas attract no snackers. I love draping fairy lights throughout the table and winding them around the bottom of the display dishes. Tea light candles are another fantastic choice, but be careful.
Booze, booze the magical fruit..or wait..
Wine and beer is how I roll for a low maintenence happy hour. Invest in a couple of nice buckets, fill ‘em with ice and set up a self-serve station. For wine, I appoint a helper and smaller serving glasses to control the pour.
If I’m hosting clients or want to step it up, I’ll enlist TenderBar Cocktail Catering as a special treat.
Keep it simple and elegant. I’ll grab a few bouquets of flowers like tulips, cherry blossoms, and anemones and break them down into bud vases. Flowers go a long way when it comes to sprucing a space. Complement with tea light candles, fairy lights, and kraft paper.
THE MUSIC + AMBIANCE
It’s a party, yeah? So put on some funky tunes with a good beat. My go-to is a ridiculous disco mix I made on Pandora (paid so there are no weird ad breaks).
For ambiance, think about lighting the spaces where you want to attract people. The office should feel different and special. Keep “off-limits” places dark and close their doors.
Clear the event with your building security so people aren’t locked out and don’t set off unexpected alarms. Always provide your cell number to the security team and/or guests so they can call for any unexpected issues.Valuables should be stored in a locked drawer or closet, and staff should clean their desks and secure personal items. Computers should be locked with password protection and preferably powered off.
THE CLEAN UP
Hopefully you have a janitorial or cleaning service who regularly cleans your space. Alert your contact and make sure they are aware the job may be bigger after said party. Have fun during the party and wait until everyone is gone to clean, or come back the next day. Have your guests take home leftover food, and provide the means to do so.
Now you have everything you need to throw the most epic office party of all time.