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(small) office Christmas party venue ideas - cocktails/appies format

I'm trying to help generate some ideas for a venue for a small office Christmas party (estimated ~35 people) on a Friday evening. Budget is limited, so restaurant buy-outs are a no-go. Minimum spends are also probably too much for the budget given the number of people expected, which makes it difficult since we're hoping to book on a Friday. Sounds like people prefer a venue where people can mingle and move around, hence the preference for a cocktails/appies format.

I've combed other threads (including GE's recent similar question) and am stuck on ideas now...

Places we've tried but have fallen through either because of cost or because they're already booked or because they won't do group bookings:


Alibi Room

Revel Room

Cactus Club

Irish Heather

Places that still need to be looked into:

Edible Canada




Little Nest


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  1. I've been to a couple of events at the Rogue Kitchen and Wetbar that I've quite enjoyed. The passed appetizers were well done and there was a good variety. Their Eastside Lounge is a good fit for 35 and has its own bar. Good beer selection too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kinnickinnik

      Oh, forgot to mention that I suggested Rogue to the organizers and I think it was one of the places that didn't work because they were booked or too expensive. I do enjoy Rogue though... great beer menu! I've never been in the Eastside Lounge room... it looks great! I'll have to keep it in mind for future events.

    2. Little Nest is for ......... the little people, isn't it ? ;-)

      Alibi Room has a nice cozy basement to book. Been to a small party there.

      Actually Steamworks in Gastown has a whole separate private room beside the main area. Can prolly accommodate 50 easily. Been to a wedding reception there.

      6 Replies
      1. re: LotusRapper

        Little Nest is for adults who cater for little people and bring them along ;)
        A couple years ago I was organizing a meeting and I think fmed had mentioned that it's possible to book out the space in the evenings and ask them to cater.

        I love Alibi Room but sadly they no longer take reservations for groups more than 10 and don't take any reservations for the downstairs room.

        I'll pass on the suggestions of PICA and Steamworks... thanks! How do you guys find the food there?

        1. re: twinkienic

          We had a Christmas party last year at Guilt and Co. In Gastown. Food wasn't great but the room was interesting. It is supposedly haunted! (cue scary sounds).

          Also- how about Calabash?

          1. re: twinkienic

            Steamworks events rooms:


            Food ....... I think of them as gastropub food with good value. But then for group events I don't pay much attention to the food anyway (unless it sucks) ;-)

            1. re: LotusRapper

              Steamworks does have really nice event rooms but I have to say the food is pretty awful.

              1. re: grayelf

                SW works for me better than Earls/Cactus Club/Milestones/Joey :-)

                Twinkienic, an ex-colleague of mine, whose side job was serving at Crave (Main St) mentioned once they can accommodate group events given the right factors. Just brainstorming ..... maybe they could be an option.



            2. re: twinkienic

              I don't remember much either way about the food at PICA - but do recall the earnest (student) service and nice location with a bit of a view. Pretty low key space and room to move around (there were ~40 at the thing I went to).

          2. Too bad about Rogue - I think they're pretty reasonable but I'm sure they book up quickly.

            How about the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts? Nice location by Granville Island.

            1. I've rented out the back part of the Railway Club for an Xmas party before. The appies weren't anything to write home about but didn't disappoint. They've got a good beer and wine selection as well and it wasn't too expensive to rent out the spot for the evening.

              1. Since you inquired about Irish Heather, I wonder if other venues under the HHG (Heather Hospitality Group) umbrella hosts small groups ?

                1. Another thought: Waldorf Hotel. I've not been to anything there but they seem to have a number of spaces of various sizes.

                  1. Thanks for the suggestions, guys! I've sent emails off to Calabash, Railway Club and Irish Heather. Railway Club's room comes with our own private bartender, which is pretty cool!

                    The Waldorf looks cool but it turns out their spaces are for ~100 people so the minimum spends are way over our budget.

                    5 Replies
                      1. re: waylman

                        Or Au Petit Chavignol? They can accommodate 25-48 according to their latest press release, so size would be just right. And ya gotta love the wodges of free parking and proximity to downtown. I don't think either they nor Salt have hard liquor licences though so if you're set on cocktails, maybe not.

                        1. re: grayelf

                          I DO love the wodges of free parking. I love APC in general and I think it'd be a lovely space... but I don't think the food would be enough of a "meal" for the office party (they want the food to feel more substantial, I think).

                          1. re: twinkienic


                            After eating at APC and leaving, I feel like I'm ready for the rest of my meal ;-)

                            1. re: LotusRapper

                              We haven't been for dinner since April (?) when we left stuffed after a pork belly delectable and some French onion soup. I'd love to try their burger though it occurs to me that none of these dishes would work for your event, oops.

                    1. how about the Refinery on Granville?

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: amelieducroix

                        Yes! The Refinery is great... but they limit the length of your party and the minimum spend for all night is over our budget, sadly.

                        I must make a point to get to one of their cocktail kitchen dinners one day!

                        1. re: twinkienic

                          Sadly, Cocktail Kitchen is no more! However, former GM Lauren Mote, now of Kale and Nori, is presenting a similar cocktail competition and dinner at Legacy Liquor called Bittered Sling Bistro.

                          1. re: peter.v

                            Oh! I'll have to check that out instead! Thanks for the tip