Event Management Company Predicts Top Holiday Party Trends of 2012

Although Jack Frost hasn't yet nipped any noses, retailers already are planning their holiday displays — and meeting planners their holiday parties. With that in mind, Boston-based event management company Longwood Events + Lifestyle has released its predictions for the top holiday party trends of 2012:

Holiday Party Activity: Ice Skating
"Don’t have the budget to send your company skating to Rockefeller Plaza for this year's holiday party?" Longwood asks.

No problem. Look for a venue that can accommodate an indoor rink. "Replace dancing with skating for instant infusion of fun and team bonding," Longwood continues.

If your space—and budget—are too tight for an ice skating rink, rent ping pong tables instead. "More inclusive than [billiards], ping pong tables provide opportunity for cheering, team bonding and plenty of laughs," Longwood says. "Ping pong as a social activity is a just budding trend in the United States, but there are ping pong social clubs popping up on other continents — places where you can play a game while sipping a cocktail."

Holiday Party Décor: Bringing Outdoors In
"The secret to successful holiday party decor is changing people's experiences through surprise and reinvention," Longwood says. "Hanging evergreens from the ceiling will achieve this. So will elements such as fur, raw birch and organic teak stumps. Ice inspired furniture such as ghost chairs and Lucite shadowbox bars will make your guests feel as though they have entered a cozy lodge in an enchanted winter's forest."

Holiday Party Lighting: Mood Enhancers
"Enhanced lighting can set the entire mood," Longwood says. "Use dramatic lighting and play down the centerpieces. Lighting allows you to change the mood from dinner to dancing and even highlight any corporate sponsors you need to thank. Lighting fixtures are sometimes becoming the actual décor. Lighting bars and furniture creates a lounge-y cocktail party atmosphere and sends a message that 'we are here for fun.'"

Holiday Party Playlist: Pop Meets Jazz
"Your favorite songs of the 80s brilliantly turned into sultry Jazz by artists like Karen Souza or 48th St. Collective" make an ideal holiday party soundtrack, according to Longwood, which says, "surprise and reinvention are the guiding principles when it comes to music."

Another popular idea: Engineer your own flash mob. "Talent will pose as … wait staff and even serve water before they unexpectedly break out into … performance," Longwood says. "The guests will be more than surprised and completely fooled by the masquerade."

Holiday Party Menu: Pies
"In 2013 pie will be the new cupcake," Longwood predicts. "Be a trendsetter — bring it to your guests this year during your holiday ... Pies are homey and familiar and also, oh, so chic. Pies come in all flavors and sizes. Meat pies, savory pies, sweet pies, maxi and mini. We are especially fond of the miniature size pies — they are a unique way for guests to stay moderate, while enjoying the delectable offering at a utensil-free holiday party."