Anyone who’s ever been involved in the planning stages of a wedding, hosted a dinner party at home or organized a surprise birthday party will know that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to catering when it comes to event planning.
To craft the perfect experience and leave a deliciously memorable impression on guests, hosts need to take many other factors into consideration too. These factors include choosing the right venue and deciding which kinds of food options will keep a crowd well fed and happy.
Selecting the Perfect Venue
Long before any decisions on catering can be made, it’s important to choose an appropriate venue that will set the right tone for the entire celebration. For events away from home, first look for venues that will be able to accommodate the number of people on the guestlist. This location should ideally offer indoor and outdoor spaces with ample seating, well maintained bathrooms, enough parking spaces and a variety of in-house catering options.
Once a trusted venue that provides everything needed for hosting an event is chosen, it’s time to get in touch with the owners to iron out the details related to food and drink. Remember that in-house catering can be the most expensive aspect of a celebration depending on whether alcohol will be served and how many guests will be in attendance.
Choosing the Right Catering Option
Anyone who’s been invited to an event with disappointing food options will know that the types of food and drinks served can make or break the overall experience. How and when these foods are served to guests is also an important factor for hosts to consider ahead of time. Here are a few of the most common catering options for hosts to choose between:
- Hors d’oeuvres
- Multi-course plated menu
- Buffet style dining
- Plates and platters
If the occasion calls for a grand celebration and includes a formal dress code, a host may choose to offer a variety of catering options throughout the duration of the event. Large weddings, formal work events and conferences with generous food budgets will typically opt for an initial cocktail hour served with hors d’oeuvres and follow this with a sit-down plated menu.
If a tight budget limits the catering options for the celebration in mind, a host may consider choosing a buffet option for the main course, opting for smaller plates and keeping the food options for starters light and in season. Choosing a buffet to feed guests is a great option if food waste is a concern as it allows individuals to decide on portion sizes for themselves depending on individual appetites, preferences and tastes.
Plates and platters are some of the most common catering styles for more intimate events as they can allow attendees to socialize and snack at their leisure. The versatile nature of sweet and savory platters additionally caters to guests with specific food allergies, preferences or restrictions.
Drinks and beverages should never be left out of the planning process. When deciding on which drinks to serve and how to serve them, make sure to provide a variety of options that cater to guests avoiding alcohol and fit the theme of the occasion. If the event will occur in winter, consider providing options like coffee, tea and hot chocolate to keep guests warm and comfortable.
Catering to the Specific Needs of Guests
The bests hosts are often accommodating and considerate to the specific dietary needs of guests. To best serve the unique needs of each attendee, gather some information on their requirements before making any firm catering decisions. Reaching out to guests ahead of time to discuss allergies and preferences will assist with menu planning and ensure that everyone is fully able to enjoy the occasion.
When hosting an event at a venue, remember to also let the owners and members of serving staff know which guests have specific food needs. If a host is unable to gather information on guest preferences ahead of time, consider offering a variety of options instead. As the trend of vegan and vegetarian menus rise in popularity and have the added benefit of affordability, it’s worthwhile to provide a few plant-based options alongside more typical ones.
When deciding if providing alternative food options is the best course of action for the event, remember that clearly labeling these options will greatly assist guests with identifying which foods and beverages are meant for them. If food allergies are a concern, labels on platters which include the allergens in question will keep guests from accidently coming to harm.
With a little extra attention to detail regarding the kinds of foods and drinks served at an event or celebration, a gracious and attentive host can create a more inclusive and welcome environment that puts the needs of guests first. By taking the time to choose catering options that accommodate everyone, hosts can ensure that everyone has a great time, no matter how many guests are invited.