by Lisa Grimaldi | November 01, 2003


Creating a holiday event that appeals to a multicultural, ethnically diverse audience can be a daunting task for even the most sensitive of planners. M&C asked leading events experts for their best ideas for inclusive, secular parties that celebrate the season. Following are six neutral themes that can work in a variety of venues and for a range of budgets.

Chocolate factory
Mmm&chocolate. Just the aroma encourages a celebratory spirit of indulgence. Greg Jenkins, president of Long Beach, Calif.-based Bravo Productions, suggests transforming an event space into a fantasy chocolate factory, bearing the name of the host company.
   Decor: Guests are greeted with the enticing scent of chocolate (courtesy of a scent machine) as they enter the room. Oversized cogs, wheels and gears fill the space, as do giant “chocolate” pieces (created in a prop shop). Tables are draped in satin brown linens, covered with sheer brown organza overlays. Gold chairs wear brown chair covers and sashes. Centerpieces can be anything from elegant crystal vases filled with miniature chocolate bars to Cadbury-hued (purple, yellow and white) floral arrangements and genuine chocolate place cards, with attendees’ names written in icing.
   Menu: Naturally, different forms of the candy from bars to handmade truffles will be available, from cocktails (think chocolate martinis) through dessert. The meal itself can stray from the theme, with the exception
of a chocolate raspberry salad dressing. The perfect ending: a chocolate dessert bar.
   Extras: Invite the guests to decorate hats with a variety of small, wrapped sweets. Or, stage a chocolate-making demonstration, with taste-testing and take-home treats.