Holiday parties are making a comeback a year after most people and businesses kept gatherings small due to concerns about COVID.
Central Oregon Daily News spoke with caterers and event organizers about the resurgence of holiday parties.
“This is our December calendar. These two weeks are all holiday parties.”
Cerstin Cheatham and her staff at Bleu Bite are catering dozens of events the next two weeks.
“Just solid holiday parties. Saturday is multiple events. That’s six to eight parties every day. Same with Friday. Sundays are a little bit slower,” Cheatham said.
Demand for Bleu Bite’s Catering services is more than double what it was last December.
It’s also above pre-pandemic levels.
“Definitely better. We are probably up from 2019 about 15%. We do usually grow about 10% a year so it’s a little bit more than that,” she said.
“It’s been a strong holiday season thus far,” said Carrie Ramoz, Tetherow marketing manager.
Several local companies have held or scheduled holiday parties in Tetherow’s event center.
“With these nice doors we have that open, especially with the nice weather we’ve been having, a lot of parties have been indoor-outdoor hybrid,” Ramoz said. “They’ll do s’mores or whiskey by the fire. They’ll enjoy the view. That’s been a nice option to offer them.”
Events in other popular spots like Bend Park and Recreation’s Aspen Hall and Hollinshead Barn are running about half of pre-pandemic levels, but demand is rising.
“The parties we are seeing this year, the companies that are able to come together, they are tending to go a little bigger than they did before. They are looking to celebrate their teams,” said Ramoz.
Holiday party goers still need to wear masks indoors, except when they are eating or drinking, and maintain social distance.
But the tradition of gathering to celebrate the holidays appears to be coming back strong.