Holiday parties are back, with a higher price tag

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Christmas trees and lights are going up all over KELOLAND, which means holiday party season is right around the corner.

But are those parties actually back this year after the pandemic cancelled most of last year’s holiday celebrations?

The holidays are a busy season for anyone in the event business.

“It’s a pretty big part of the business, it’s three weeks of sheer busyness,” Chef Dominque’s owner Dominique Fontenille said. 

That was until last year’s pandemic.

“I think we maybe had two holiday parties last year, compared to normal,” Downtown Holiday Inn Corporate Sales Manager Nichelle Lund said. 

“We had four people working for the entire company in the month of December last year. Now we’ll have about 30, 35 people,” Fontenille said. 

With COVID-19 still a concern this year, are those holiday parties back in full swing?

“Yes they are coming back,” Lund said.  “We’re probably about 75 percent there, some companies are still virtual, you’ve got a lot of the health care companies that can’t really get together in mass like they used to.”

While the Downtown Holiday Inn has been scheduling holiday parties since the summer, some companies are hesitantly watching the numbers before solidifying plans.

“There have been some people that have booked and they’re like, you know what not yet,” Lund said. “So we’re working with them to make sure they’re as comfortable as possible.”

“We actually did our first catering two weeks ago for a Christmas party,” Fontenille said. 

Chef Dominique is now back in his usual full holiday swing, catering roughly six holiday parties a day for the next month.

“We’re pretty much full, still getting tons of phone calls, trying to squeeze things in,” Fontenille said. 
But now the problem is making sure he can get product to meet the demand for the return of holiday parties.

“In 2020, we had no customers and very cheap product, now the product is very expensive and not easy to get, and we have plenty of customers,” Fontenille said. 

Party planners are having to pay more, with less of a selection to make the holiday celebrations happen amid ongoing supply chain issues.

“The food prices just went up like crazy, we cannot get everything that we want. So we had to shrink the menu a lot just to be able to make sure we get the food for our customers,” Fontenille said. 

Chef Dom says over the past month, his food costs have gone up nearly 10 percent, with many food products just not available. It’s why he cut down his menu offering by about 80 percent, filled only with products he knows he’ll be able to get.

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