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So, you've decided to play host for the holidays this year. Now, remember this is New York, so outsourcing is encouraged. Who has the time to get it all together alone? Luckily, New York City has no shortage of talented chefs, bartenders, photographers and more who are likely going to do a much better job than you anyway.
Personally we think nothing makes a party seem polished like a true professional on hand. And getting help cleaning up? Heavenly.
Here are NYC services that'll help you pull off a crowd-pleaser with minimal effort on your part:
[***This story originally ran in December 2015 and was updated in November 2016.]
Post the job you want filled—event staffing, for example—on TaskRabbit, and they'll connect you with people willing to do it. A quick search of people willing to clean up after a party came up with "taskers" charging everything from $16 to $36 an hour. A minimum payment of one hour is required. Every task is insured for up to a million dollars.
While you'll have to do the set-up and clean-up by yourself, FreshDirect, a favorite food delivery service for those looking to avoid NYC supermarkets, has Thanksgiving meals with all the trimmings starting at $18.25 per person. This way, you can skip the shopping and cooking for the most part. They also have tons of party platters (things like fruit and cheese and Mediterranean assortments) that are really good to feed crowds at holiday parties. You can even order all your wine from there, too, if you're so inclined.
Big City Chefs
If you want a chef to craft the menu, purchase the ingredients, and cook everything for you—and seriously, who wouldn't want that?—this service will do just that. There are set menu ideas to choose from, like Tuscan Farmhouse and Wine Country dinners, but you can also ask for a customized one. Most chefs have experience in high-end, high-volume kitchens, so they're used to time pressure and can probably work in small kitchens. Prices range, but tend to start at about $100 a person for a four-course sit-down meal (including ingredients). Cocktail parties are more like $40 to $70 per per person (alcohol not included; but mixology is).
The high-end chefs from Plated personal chef services can do any type of party, from pass-around cocktail soirees to multiple course sit-down dinners. Prices run the gamut, but cocktail parties can usually be done for as little as $35 a person and more formal meals can go to well above $100 a person. The company will also coordinate servers, bartenders, even bouncers if need be.
Columbia Bartending Agency
Want someone else to take care of the drinks? Hire a bartender with an Ivy League education: For a $30 fee, plus a standard rate of $18 per hour (but $30-$35/per hour during the holiday season), you can hire a Columbia-educated man or woman to tend bar (glassware not included). Add two dollars an hour and get dishwashing service (heaven!). Note: They'll show up with a shaker set, corkscrew, strainer, and bar spoon, but the rest is left up for you to provide. All bartenders have taken a mixology course at Columbia and went through an intensive interview and competitive selection process. Every one is TIPS certified (meaning they've been trained to spot possible overdrinkers and help prevent problems that arise from intoxication, such as drunk driving), but not insured.
International Center of Photography
When blurry iPhone photos just won't do, you may want to consider hiring a photography student from the International Center of Photography to document the event. Write a short description of your job and email firstname.lastname@example.org, and someone at the school will post your job to the student-only blog. Some photographers will have their equipment insured, others won't.
Name your rate ($15/hour is the typical rate), and Hunter Helpers chooses from a roster of available, interested candidates. Many have hospitality experience, and can bartend, do some waiting, or post-party cleaning/dishwashing. You are encouraged to interview and ask the service providers for references (terms and conditions are here).
GigMasters is an event marketplace that can provide you with musicians for hire, from harpists to strolling violinists to DJs. They can also connect you to photographers and party rentals (think karaoke machines!). Reviews are all verified and GigMasters’ Buyer Protection guarantees 100 percent money-back on payments made through GigMasters in the unlikely event that a vendor cannot or does not service an event as booked. Some companies are insured, while others aren't. Many have had background checks.
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