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Sarah Ward

Corporate Dinner: 3 Creative Dinner Ideas for Private Events

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A corporate dinner is a professional occasion hosted within the hospitality industry. While professional events imply formality, corporate dinners can still be creative and enjoyable. The best corporate dinners combine a company topic and conversation with a delicious dinner and time for socializing. 

A dinner, often held at a hotel, is a formal or informal company gathering. For the hotel staff, a corporate dinner involves a banquet table setup, work for the banquet servers, and directions from the banquet manager

In this blog post, we’ll walk through the meaning of a corporate dinner, and creative ideas to make your event exceptional. If you’re a hotel owner, restaurant manager, or catering business executive, these ideas will give you insight into managing a corporate event.

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Corporate Dinner Meaning 

The company dinner meaning encompasses any and all reasons a company organizes a semi-formal dinner party to gather employees. There are three main reasons to host a dinner:

  1. To gather the company for a speech or presentation on a business- or industry-related topic.
  2. To come together after a seminar or major meeting to discuss and download the information.
  3. To celebrate an accomplishment or major milestone for the company.

Sometimes a business will host a celebration for one of these reasons; other times it’s for numerous purposes. For example, an employee’s accomplishment could be celebrated with others’ speeches about the work that went into the accomplishment.

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Corporate Dinner Events 

Corporate events are a work function and should be planned with precision by the work management team and the dinner management team. The dinner management team works with the company leaders to plan for the occasion. That collaboration helps the team keep the company mindset and occasion for the dinner in mind.

"Key Takeaway: The best corporate dinners combine a company topic and conversation with a delicious dinner and time for socializing."

Even though corporate dinners are a professional environment, there is still room for creativity and fun. There’s a balance to strike between light and fun while avoiding anything inappropriate for the setting. Avoiding anything personal or potentially uncomfortable–like forced icebreakers, or any topic not normally discussed at work–will help you walk that line.

3. Build In Social Time

One potential downfall of corporate dinners is sometimes the lack of time to socialize. Of course, the main reason for the dinner is often a keynote speech or presentation. That doesn’t mean that the guests won’t be looking forward to some casual conversation with their coworkers.

Intentionally including social time when it’s most convenient for the event gives guests the right balance between formal and informal. It also limits most conversation to a particular timeframe, to give guests an expectation about what the rest of the evening looks like.

2. Choose a Theme

Like the best bars or themed cocktail bar locations, choosing a theme goes a long way in terms of creativity. When it comes to choosing a corporate dinner theme, keep it simple, and let the focus remain on the purpose of the evening. The theme should complement the evening or the company’s brand as a whole.

You can still have fun with it though. If your business is a law firm, for example, provide the menu in the form of a legal brief. For businesses that are managing corporate dinners, keep some general theme supplies–like streamers or balloons–on hand for typical events.

1. Embrace Menu Creativity

There are all sorts of menu types you can craft for a corporate event–including a table d'hôte menu. If it’s a party event, you can choose multiple courses, from the entrée food to dessert options. For a more structured event, research various catering business ideas to find the best menu and meal presentation.

Make sure you know what allergies and sensitivities you need to prepare for. This is your guests’ responsibility to report, too, as they need to respond when you reach out to learn their needs. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Corporate Dinners

Corporate evening events are a unique type of occasion. A lot of planning goes into them from the event management team to the catering or kitchen staff. That’s not to mention the planning and thought coming from the guests of the event, and the corporate hosts. 

Our answers to these frequently asked questions cover information for every aspect of a corporate event. From what to wear to how to host, we’ve got you covered no matter what your reason for looking into a corporate dinner is:

How Do I Host a Corporate Dinner? 

There are several steps you can take to masterfully host a corporate dinner. Those steps include:

  • Making room for networking in the dinner schedule
  • Printing out agendas and single use menu options, so guests have all the information they need–you can also use a QR code menu with a custom QR code builder to save paper, time, and money
  • Limiting the menu to keep the kitchen running smoothly and ease the work of wait staff
  • Pre-selecting wine and other beverages–including popular cocktails, beer brands, and mocktails
  • Be brief and to the point with speeches and presentations
  • Reserve a dining space with either full privacy, or partial privacy

These steps lead to an efficient, pleasurable experience for your guests and yourself. Your event will run smoothly, and your plan will give you room to enjoy the dinner.

How Long Is a Corporate Dinner? 

A dinner can last between two to three hours. This provides plenty of time for speeches, presentations, networking, drinks, the main meal, and wrapping up. Planning your schedule in advance, and with wiggle room for changed plans,  helps you stick to a reasonable time. 

What Is an Executive Dinner? 

An executive dinner is an event held for industry leaders with the purpose of networking and collaboration across businesses in the given industry. The key difference between a corporate and executive dinner is corporate events are for one company, while executive dinners are industry-wide.

What Do You Talk About at a Company Dinner? 

The key points you talk about at a company dinner are the reasons for the gathering and the business or industry in general. The reasons for the gathering are brought up in speeches or presentations, and then can be spoken about over the course of the dinner.

The general conversation around the business and industry will show up throughout the dinner. Those topics will come up in particular at the beginning of the dinner while guests are arriving. They'll also come into the conversation near the end when coffee is being enjoyed and the evening is winding down.

What Should I Wear to a Corporate Dinner?

For a corporate dinner, the dress code is typically business dress. If you’re unsure what you can wear, it’s a safe bet to wear what is appropriate for your office. If you work from home, wear something more on the business side. If you still need pointers, refer to the event’s official invite or contact the organizer.

A holiday company party, for example, is an occasion you can dress up for. A seminar typically calls only for business attire. If the occasion is something unusual for your company, the company may include a dress code for the dinner.

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Corporate Dinners: Put Your Corporate Party Hat On

Corporate dinners are a professional environment, but that doesn’t take away from the possibility of a delightful evening. The ideas in this blog post can spruce up the evening and turn any corporate dinner into a night to remember.

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