With the holiday season approaching us faster than a rocket-fueled Santa's sleigh, the annual debate on where to have the holiday party is in full swing. Well, relax. We've had a look at what Houston has to offer (it's a lot) and come up with 10 suggestions for spending some quality time with your team - or your clients.
So, here they are, in no particular order:
Originally built in 1912, Houston's first theatre now plays host to both theatre, and cocktails and food. Open 6 days a week for dinner, Prohibition's oyster bar features classic cocktails, fresh oysters and a Gulf coast-inspired menu - all to a backdrop that includes original artifacts and wall plasters.
Bring a touch of Italy to your holiday party in the heart of Houston. Perfect for smaller businesses, BRIO provides intimate seating for between just 8 and 30 people, a happy hour, and a range of authentic Italian cooking that includes seafood, pasta and steaks. There's also free Wi-Fi - just in case you need to check that email that didn't arrive by close of business.
If you want a bit more than just sitting down to dinner, Kemah Boardwalk offers the chance to stroll in the sea air and enjoy rides and amusements. It even does special employee packages that include all-day passes for rides. And if after all the thrill-seeking, you'd like a bite to eat, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from - assuming your stomach has recovered from the Boardwalk Bullet roller coaster.
Got 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' stuck in your head? Then why not test your baseball skills in the home of the Astros. Remembering there's no 'I' in 'team', you can step up to the plate in a big league batting cage, play some softball - complete with umpires, big screen coverage and a DVD - or take part in a stadium-wide scavenger hunt. A. J. Hinch not included.
5. Houston Zoo
Fancy grunting, squeaking and squawking with the animals? No, not your colleagues, but Houston Zoo in its annual transformation into a winter wonderland. The zoo offers a private event venue complete with music and food, all set to the impressive background of the Zoo Lights. Venues include the Gorilla Treehouse, an aquarium (where you can watch the fish while you eat) and the Natural Encounters Building where guests are greeted by a tranquil waterfall.
Price: $ - $$ (depending on option chosen)
6. The Grove
Offering anything between an intimate cocktail reception to a seated dinner featuring Modern Texan cuisine, The Grove is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass windows which provide a stunning view of Discovery Green Park and the downtown skyline - the perfect blend of urban and nature to celebrate the holiday season.
If you want a bit of culture with your holiday event, head down to one of the most popular museums in the country. With a wide range of event spaces available, you can dine and dance with dinosaurs, eat among Texan wildlife, get up close and personal with more than 60 species of butterfly in a three-storey glass cone or sparkle among a 2,000 carat emerald crystal and gold clusters.
Price: $$ - $$$ (depending on event space chosen)
If you know your wines (and even if you don't) Haak winery offers a unique ambience and atmosphere for your company get together. Sitting in 12 acres in Santa Fe, Haak offers full service catering for 25 to 200-plus people. Dine on Haak's pavilion and patio within walking distance of the vines, or groups of 40 people or less can eat, drink and be merry in their intimate wine cellar setting. Cheers!
See Houston from a whole new angle on Buffalo Bayou Partnership's pontoon tour boat. The Spirit of the Bayou can be chartered to take 21 guests on a 1½ hour along historic Buffalo Bayou past Allen's Landing, Sesquicentennial Park and Sabine Promenade, McKee Street Bridge, and the industrial side of Houston. No catering, but for that true picnic feel, guests are welcome to bring their own food and drink.
According to TripAdvisor, there are 7,037 restaurants in Houston - and this one tops the lot. Open for private events, Chama Gaucha boast they bring the unique and original Brazilian way of serving meat, slow-roasted over an authentic churrascaria (like a barbecue grill). Be warned, they also promise that food doesn't stop coming until you've had enough, so don't forget to flip your traffic light-themed card from green to red when you're fit to burst!
The companies I mention or link to in this post are just examples that I thought you'd find useful - I don't endorse them or their services. I have no affiliation with them and make no representation about their services.