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by Allen Sheinman | August 18, 2014

Looking ahead to the year-end holiday season, here's some creative advice from Arthur Backal, CEO and founder of the Backal Management Group, which manages events at the innovative Apella, Event Space at Alexandria Center in Manhattan.

1. Think old. Consider old-fashioned soda fountains, sweet treats like whoopee pies, retro candy and vintage cocktails.

2. Create a bar scene. We're talking interactive food stations, like a pie bar, mashed-potato bar, waffle bar, cookie bar, popcorn bar, chili bar. Comfort food, especially at holiday time, will be a hit, but brand it — name it to make it unique to your party.

3. Vary the seating. Depending on the vibe you're trying to create, mix up your seating options with love seats, couches, tufted benches, etc., to create an inviting and cozy feel.

4. Mix up the tables. As with seating, dot the floor with a combination of rounds, squares, high-boys, low-boys.

5. Make eating interesting. Keep attendees on their toes by changing the offerings during the party, e.g., savory hors d'oeuvres at the start, then switching to sweet mini desserts.

6. Maximize your napkins. Have them printed up with fun facts or questions to stir up conversations.

7. Go for daylight. Brunch/lunch parties are a great way to spend less for a holiday celebration.

8. Be a team player. The spirit of the holiday season is all about community, so spend time with colleagues doing something fun, via team-building activities/retreats.

9. Be a game player. Organize fun activities like ping-pong or pool. Create internal teams and compete for prizes, then host another playful night out for the winners.

10. Consider the top of the week. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are the most popular evenings for holiday parties. If you're looking to cut down on costs, ask if any discounts apply for events held on Monday or Tuesday nights.

Source: Arthur Backal, apella.com