In past years, the reception has managed to prepare a wide variety of food while also satisfying the classic holiday essentials. The food provided in past years includes:
- Assorted cheeses served with crackers, flatbreads and grissini breadsticks
- Grilled veggies with balsamic drizzle
- Panko-crusted chicken bites
- Barbecue meatballs
- Apple cider
Each fall semester before exams begin, the Lamberts invite the entire student body and professors to Maynard House for an evening of camaraderie in the spirit of the holiday season. But the event’s origins took place long before Lambert came to Elon in 1999.
Former Elon President Fred Young started the event in the late 1980s, and it was hosted at his home at the time, Holland House, which was located where Phi Beta Kappa Commons currently has a home.
Through the years, the reception has received additional experiences that add to the traditional nature of the event, such as students having their picture taken with President Lambert.
As is typically expected of university events, free food is provided, and because of the large-scale attendance of the event, finger foods take priority to accommodate as many people as possible.
Carolyn Ent, events director in the president’s office, coordinates with ARAMARK’s catering team to select food. ARAMARK handles all of the catering and management services for the event.
Kate Nelson, marketing manager of Elon Dining Services, emphasizes the consistent quality of food over the quantity of food. An experienced team led by Mirek Lysakowski, executive catering chef who’s been with the team for 12 years, has prepared the food every year since Young was president.
The demand for food is based on how crowded the event is, seeing as it’s become very popular in the past two or three years, according to Jana Lynn Patterson, assistant vice president for Student Life and associate dean of students.
“We were averaging 300 to 500 students up until a few years ago,” Patterson said. “Last year, over 1000 students attended.”
Nelson said that attendance is also dependent on the weather.
“In 2010, it was 34 degrees and freezing cold outside, so our guest count was low,” Nelson said. “In 2011, it was a beautiful evening around 65 degrees and we served a much higher number of guests. We had to return to campus to make additional food so that we could serve everyone.”
The Student Holiday Party at Maynard House was held this year on December 4th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., allowing students, faculty and staff to enjoy a classic Elon tradition and to revel in the spirit of the holidays.