Sit-down dinner or stand-up reception? Answering this big question in party organisation comes down to setting clear objectives

Standing or seated

Stand-up: Building strong teams

I thought it’d be nice to get a big group together for dinner,’ says just about everyone I know when birthday parties are being planned. ‘No it won’t!’ I want to shout. ‘You know all those people you’ve been meaning to catch up with for ages? Ain’t gonna happen. We’ll all just be talking to the person we’re sat next to. Happens every time.’ Same goes for office Christmas parties. If you’re looking to build bonds between teams, don’t put them at long tables. A stand-up bowl food reception (or a buffet with free seating) is much better for interaction. Some kind of party game will help break the ice early on – as, of course, will some decent welcome cocktails. Give guests something to talk about as they mingle – be that great entertainment or really good food – and they should go home happy.

Sit-down: Rewarding hard work

Somebody get this man a chair! Paul from accounts has clearly had a stressful year. Just look at the state of him. Dark circles down to his chin. Come to think of it, the whole team is looking a bit pale. They must be exhausted from all those late nights in the office. Time for a Christmas treat? This one should involve a sit-down meal. Go for the best meal plan you can afford (we’re talking luxury ingredients here, people) and source some decent wines to match. You’ll want to put real effort into the seating plan too. You can create a relaxed atmosphere at dinner by seating guests next to those they’re comfortable with. Trust me, this will help fuel the party atmosphere for later. All you have to do is line up a great band or DJ to serve up plenty of irresistible dance tracks. Job done.

Want a bit of both? A clever party planner mixes teambuilding in with rewards. The catch? You’ll need a bit more time. Put on a fun daytime activity ahead of a fancy dinner and finish it all off with cocktails and dancing.

This article was last updated in May 2018