Corporate dinner parties done right

Hosting an effective dinner for V.I.P. clients or top-performing employees takes much more than a smart guest list and great food. Claire Hoffman, West Coast bureau chief for BizBash Media, collected tips for top-notch corporate dinner parties.

Design everything with the goal of facilitating conversations. Avoid super-wide tables and keep centerpieces below the sightline. Comfortable chairs are important — i.e., something with a cushion. Lighting should not be so dim that it feels like a club, but you don’t want it so bright that it feels medicinal, says David Merrell, C.E.O. and creative director of AOO Events in Los Angeles.

Prep the event’s host on ways to keep the conversation flowing. Christopher Confero, owner of the Atlanta-based design firm Confero, says if the dinner party features multiple tables, create a seating arrangement that puts someone with a large personality at each table. He cautions, “Be aware that you haven’t cast a bulldozer in this role. You don’t want someone dominating, only facilitating.”

Keep catering simple. With few exceptions, a corporate dinner is not the time to get experimental with the menu. Seated corporate dinners call for a plated, coursed meal with an option for restrictive diets and an easy switch-up for anyone with a serious allergy.  

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