Are Westchester Companies Spending Big To Throw Holiday Parties?

From casual luncheons, to dinner parties, to full black tie events, holiday gatherings provide a unique opportunity for workers to kick back and enjoy some bonding time with their colleagues—and even their bosses.

But in an age of tight budget constraints, just how willing are companies in Westchester to spend big bucks on their holiday events? And what types of events are on the agenda for 2014? A couple of the county’s most prominent companies and venues were willing to give us an idea.

“I’ve noticed that companies this year are doing more day parties rather than night parties because they are a bit cheaper,” said Kyra Hamilton, a manager at Harvest on Hudson in Hastings. The restaurant, which can hold up to 220 people at once, has its own event manager to coordinate the details for private gatherings.

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Hamilton adds, “The volume of holiday party reservations this year is generally on par with the amount of reservations from previous years.”

Another upscale venue, 42 the Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, Westchester in White Plains, is set to host a number of gatherings this season—including public relations firm Thompson & Bender’s annual holiday party.

“There’s a definite feeling of change from the austerity of a few years ago,” says Liz Bracken-Thompson, a partner at Thompson & Bender (and one of our 2014 Women in Business honorees). “This year I’m hearing people talk about celebrating the holidays from more of a business perspective.”

Thompson & Bender’s holiday party, to which Bracken-Thompson says over 150 people have already RSVP’d, is planned for their clients and employees in 42 The Restaurant’s sky lounge. Along with dinner and drinks, the company has some gifts and giveaways for attending clients and business associates.

Yet, the conventional lunch or dinner party event isn’t for everyone. For companies looking for a different holiday experience, Grand Prix New York in Mount Kisco may suffice. Equipped with a go-kart racetrack and bowling alley, the indoor space hosts several corporate events each year. According to Nat Mundy, vice president of sales and marketing, 2014 is just another busy holiday season for hosting events.

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“We have continued to see great interest in our creative corporate events this winter,” he notes. “Companies from 10 to 200 people have been steadily utilizing us this season.” Mundy also adds that Grand Prix saw record numbers of events reserved in November and a steady December as well.

Alvin & Friends Restaurant in New Rochelle is going a different route with several holiday outings this season as well. Co-owner Gwen Clayton described various “off the page” events that are happening through the restaurant, such as the “Let’s Do Brunch NYC: Girlfriends Holiday Gathering” where several Westchester businesswomen meet up for food, cocktails, and networking opportunities. She adds that while conventional company Christmas parties haven’t been as prevalent at Alvin & Friends, the schedule has been packed with holiday events for local schools, organizations, and community outreach groups. These events, though they require the same amount of planning, are usually flexible and allow for last minute changes, according to Clayton.

“It’s been fun leaving a little room for the unexpected,” she says.

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