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Party Planners See New Events, a Bit Less Glitz

Special Events magazine takes a look at inauguration parties in its latest issue, and finds that economic woes will result in higher turnover in ball hosts, and a lower-key tone overall:

As for private events, the dour economic outlook is -- predictably -- putting a pall on some parties. Harmon notes that some of his longstanding clients won't be hosting events next month. "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for example, have totally canceled their events," he says. "And I don't plan on much from the auto industry and major insurance companies for the obvious reasons." Even so, "There are other large events, like MTV [Be the Change Inaugural Ball] and Google," he says, "and new entries, like Oprah Winfrey, planning large events."...

Because of the sour economy, even hosts with big budgets are taking pains to avoid looking lavish. Main Event Caterers, based in Arlington, Va., is enjoying twice as many inquiries about inaugural events as in years past, notes executive vice president Nancy Goodman. Even so, "The host does not want to have the appearance of spending a ton of money. For example, in lieu of crab cakes, we're proposing less expensive, comfort food such as shrimp fritters or barbecue beef cocktail sandwiches," she says. "Some don't even want it to be known they are the host." Other clients, she says, are turning their traditional client-appreciation event into an event that gives back the community. For example, some hosts are inviting local public high school students to parade-viewing parties.

Watchdog groups had encouraged such scaling-back in a recent CNN article.

Even with the toned-down menus, the logistics are straining catering companies, Special Events found. Security requires day-before food delivery, so one caterer is racing to line up refrigeration trucks, and also may import extra staff from Philadelphia and Richmond..

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  December 3, 2008; 10:14 AM ET  | Category:  Food & Dining , The Balls
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