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Food and drink are an integral part of the December holiday season, and sharing a special meal or a standout glass of wine with your teammates offers a valuable opportunity for loosening one's tie, spending quality time with one another, and discussing the successes of the past twelve months. But there's more to a successful work party than canapés and cocktails. You'll also need to consider who you invite, how you invite them, and of course where you choose to dine.

The Casual Team Luncheon

Guest list: 10 people
Invite: Email

This lunch should be a celebration of what you've accomplished with your team this year. If a private room feels too formal, call ahead to reserve a spacious table where your team can spread out. Avoid restaurants that are too large or too loud, and look for a place where tables have distance between them. As you enter, give your credit card to your waiter so that no bill comes to the table. With such a small group, order a la carte and limit booze to beer or wine to keep heads clear. If your team decided to exchange gifts, exchange them during dessert. Otherwise, the best gift for your team would be to surprise them with an afternoon off. Let them know earlier in the week that they should clear their schedules for a long afternoon meeting that day. Then, with lunch finished, send them home.

The Post-Work Cocktail Party
Guest list: 60 people
Invite: Paperless Post e-vite

The best pairing for a cocktail party is music. Consider hiring a jazz quartet (nothing ruins a party faster than a bad cover band) and book a large private room with tall tables to promote mingling. Simple hors d'oeuvres like steak tartare or sea scallops wrapped with prosciutto will sate guests. When it comes to drinks, stock the bar with beer, wine and a pre-batched signature cocktail that appeals to a wide range of tastes. (Consider "The Bohemian": Absolut peach vodka with a splash of mixed berry cordial, topped with chilled Champagne.) Keep the hours early, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., unless you plan to serve enough food to make up for dinner.

The Formal Team Dinner

Guest list: 25 people
Invite: Printed invitations delivered to offices

Formal dinners are the time to recap past successes and look forward to future strategies. Book a private room with small, round tables for easy conversations and introductions, and let the maître'd know ahead of time that you'll need a full audio/video set-up for your presentation. To keep guests engaged, consider a meal centered on wine tastings. Have the restaurant pair wines from around the world the meal's course, and leave space on each person's menu card for them to note their favorite wine of the night. As the evening comes to a close, send each person home with their chosen bottle to enjoy later.

No matter what party you're planning, The Capital Grille has everything you need.