Our Top 5 Winter Party Ideas

We’re in the middle of the *brrrrrr* chilly Chicago winter months, but are staying warm brainstorming cozy & fun catering ideas for you and yours.  Below we’ve listed our top 5 ideas for your next get together, whether you’re putting together a large format party for 300+ or an intimate soiree at your home. 

#1 – Celebrate Surprise

A lot of the events business centers around pre-planning and thinking months in advance. Sometimes we love to buck this, and lean into spontaneity, and catering elements that scream ‘cozy + casual’ more than anything else. 

Our thinking? Send out a fancy invitation, get your house or venue decked out, and then surprise your friends with the delicious down to earth food they crave. From our most elegant clients to the most casual, crowd pleasers are: all ages “elevated” Hot Dog Rolling Carts; Cocktail Lobster Rolls; Handmade Pretzels with Spiced Mustards; Grilled Steaks; Mini Wedge Salad; Corn Elote; Sliders and Fries; and of course, Sushi.

Life is stressful! Treat yourself and your guests to delicious, earthy eats that provide great flavor and lots of options.

#2 – Ditch the Winter with Hawaii Five-O

We find that nostalgia and milestone birthday celebrations go hand in hand. You might remember Hawaii Five-O as a 12 season TV show that ran from 1968-1980. If you or your guest of honor remembers when TV shows had a “start time” the nostalgia of a milestone birthday event wrapped around a retro TV Show like Hawaii Five-O could be a perfect starting point to inspire a “tongue in cheek” menu and décor. 

A few menu ideas? Kick off with a juicy Pink Hawaiian Rum Cocktail; nibbles of Mini Huli Huli Chicken Tacos and Macadamia Crab Cakes. As the night goes on, pass around Hawaiian BBQ Fried Green Tomato and Pulled Chicken Sliders. Keep the party going with an updated Chopped Salad to include Lychee, Mango, Hearts of Palm and Coconut Shards. 

Have your guests create their own DIY Poke Bowls with add-ins of Tuna, Shrimp and Spiced Tofu, as well as Banana Leaf Poached Sea Bass with Spicy Mango Salsa.

#3 – Interactive Bar Experience

While a traditional bartender bar with “standards” is great for event fast service, an EC Liquidity Bar can be an alternative for a guest who craves an interactive experience. We’ll provide the normal accoutrement of bartenders, shakers, strainers and glassware, your guests will customize their cocktails (or mocktails) with a Rainbow of Fresh Juices; Herb Garnishes; Housemade Steeped Luxardo Cherries; House Pickled Vegetable Garnish; Bourbon Pickled Jalapeno; Salts; Bitters and Housemade Simple Syrups. We’ll print up favorite recipe cards to be available for those who are seeking cocktail inspiration. 

#4 – Friends Passover

We’ve all sat through the obligatory four hour family Passover with mounds of brisket, gefilte fish and Mogen David. This year lighten up the meal with a whimsical approach: Matzo Ball Soup Shooter with Mini Matzo Ball Skewer, Baby Kale Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette, Grilled Salmon on a Toasted Potato Chip, Matzo Crusted Chicken Breast Milanese, and Persian Vegetarian Eggplant Tangine with Fried Quinoa.

#5 – We All Scream for Ice Cream

Ice cream bars are challenging if you’re doing it solo – but EC has the backup to professionalize this classic theme. We have mastered the mechanics of holding and serving all kinds of ice cream at the right temperature. For your next homey party, we’ll be on hand with Confetti Milkshakes (with striped straws + little cookies), Mini Ice Cream Cones, and Choco Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches. Trust us, your kids will love it.