Ho-Ho-Hold onto that party idea till the New Year – How small groups can have BIG holiday fun once the season has wrapped up

Wine tastings are always fun. Time for a little time out...for good behaviour?  Here's a list of fun things to do for your small group Photo - Karen Anderson

Wine tastings are always fun.
Time for a little time out…for good behaviour?
Here’s a list of fun things to do for your small group
Photo – Karen Anderson

I’m thinking about all my friends in the hospitality and retail industries who are going gangbusters right now. It doesn’t take three wise men to know that they’ll be holding on till the New Year for a share of the good cheer most of us our currently enjoying thanks to their hard work.

There’s also whole gaggle of small groups and groups with small budgets in our town who can’t afford to check everyone into a spa-laden hotel or to fly in The Eagles to help them Take it Easy like some of this city’s generous corporate giants have been known to do (Calgary is Canada’s corporate head office capital).

Think of this post as a stocking overflowing with ideas for small groups whose gratification must be delayed. Here’s a few flings you can have before spring.

Christmas does not hold the patent on Merry.

With this list of party ideas you and yours can Eat, Drink and be Merry at your leisure.

The important thing is to acknowledge your team however small a group you are and to get caught up on fun instead of getting caught up in the pressure of hosting a perfunctory holiday party just because of the deep dark December void you might be tempted to get sucked into.

You can factor in some festive fun and keep your accountant jolly at the same time with this list of mostly nice, not too naughty, and very novel and affordable party ideas. If you don’t live in Calgary, you may be able to find equivalent places on your home turf – but then again, we do have it pretty great in Calgary, so maybe you should spring for a trip here with your gang if you’re not lucky enough to live here.

1. Beer and Bowling at National on 10th – Yes, they really have a bowling alley and beer and good food and lunch and bowling for $20/person. Go all out and have company bowling shirts made. Who knows, this could be your new team-brainstorming center.

2. Say Hola to the holidays – with a Spanish feast at Ox and Angela. It’ll feel like a mini-break in Catalan and you’ll get 10 tapas for $45 per person. If you are a really good organizer you’ll let everyone go home early for a siesta in true Spanish fashion.

Chef Steve Smee welcoming guests at Ox and Angela photo - Karen Anderson

Chef Steve Smee welcoming guests at Ox and Angela
photo – Karen Anderson

3. Hit the target – with a Wild Rose Brewery tour and pub night complete with a round robin darts championship. Skip the trophy and send the winner home with one of their 25 beer mini-keg “party pigs”. Now that’s a prize with serious bragging rights.

A brewery tour and game of darts is a great thing to do with a small group. Here I am with the crew of "Off the Beaten Palate" when we celebrated a wrap-up of filming at Wild Rose Brewery in Calgary Lt-Rt Jong Won Ham, Dan Dor, James Klopko, (Brian Smith from Wild Rose Brewery), Michael-Ann Rowe and last but not least ME!

A brewery tour and game of darts is a great thing to do with a small group.
Here I am with the crew of “Off the Beaten Palate” when we celebrated a wrap-up of filming at Wild Rose Brewery in Calgary
Lt-Rt
Jong Won Ham, Dan Dor, James Klopko, (Brian Smith from Wild Rose Brewery), Michael-Ann Rowe and last but not least ME!

4. Appreciate your group and art – at the same time with a “state of the art” talk at Gibson Fine Art. Owner Patti Dibski will demystify art buying, collecting and appreciation and serve you some lovely wine and artful bites at the same time for about $75 per person. The whole experience is approachable and classy – much like the woman and her gallery.

5. Find higher ground at The HighwoodThe Highwood is a dining room cum class room at SAIT Polytechnic’s School of Hospitality and Tourism. You’ll get a five-course meal for about $55 each in an elegant setting while the SAIT students continue their higher learning.

6. Vote for the Viking approach – Take your fierce crew to The Danish Canadian Club for a smorgasbord and a few shots of aquavit. Scandinavian food is ultra hip right now. Just remember to say Skol and call a taxi service post pillaging.

7. Mangia Mangia – eat your way to office harmony by making a reservation at one of Sugo’s reasonably priced “peasant dinner” evenings.

9. Book on down the highway to Okotoks for a private mead tasting at Chinook Honey and then mosey on over to Olde Towne’s Heartland Cafe to taste the fine flavours of the Foothills that surround us.

10. Graze your gang through a weekend morning at Chinatown’s Silver Dragon for Dim Sum or hang out for an evening of D-I-Y Chinese fondue with the “Hot Pot” buffet at Regency Palace.

12. Splurge a bit – if you are only eight or ten souls and select a chef’s table dinner at Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts at Home. For about $150 per person (and up), one of that group’s famous chefs will cook you a five-course meal with wine pairings selected by the staff at Bin 905.

Splurge on an intimate cooking lesson in the back kitchen at CRMR at Home photo - Karen Anderson

Splurge on an intimate cooking lesson in the back kitchen at CRMR at Home
photo – Karen Anderson

13. Chum it up at CiboCibo’s got a cozy upstairs private room. There’s room for twelve to spend an afternoon sampling their scudolino (sharing bowls of appetizers) and their great variety of pizzas and wines.

While away an afternoon at CIBO photo - Karen Anderson

While away an afternoon at CIBO
photo – Karen Anderson

14. Casing a Cheesy situation – Though it might not sound it, this is actually a deluxe private tour of the cheese case at Janice Beaton Fine Cheese. You’ll be there after hours and have the place to yourselves. You can even bring your own wines or have the knowledgable staff at JBFC pick some pairings for you. It’ll be like a tour of Europe without leaving Calgary.

Book a private tour of the cheese case at Janice Beaton Fine Cheese photo - Karen Anderson

Book a private tour of the cheese case at Janice Beaton Fine Cheese
photo – Karen Anderson

I hope one of these ideas is right up your bowling alley. Whether you’re blessed with leisure time before, during or after the holidays or you have to plough on through till the New Year; and no matter how busy your holiday season, I hope you’ll have the health to Savour it All.

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