Do you have a group to feed, and don’t know where to start? We understand that when planning an event, no matter the size, the pressure is on to impress your guests and make them feel well-taken-care of.  We put together some key points to guide you towards a successful event, so you can enjoy it along with your guests. Here are five key points to consider when planning your event:

Who are you feeding?

Do your guests have eclectic tastes, or are they more of a “meat and potatoes” group? Are they family, colleagues, or friends? Are there any known dietary restrictions or allergies? Any children? There is always a ‘happy medium’ when it comes to feeding a larger group. The more you can tell us about your party, the better we can ensure that everyone is taken care of.

What accommodations are available?

Some trendy venues like barns, parks, historical buildings, or other less-conventional places, don’t always have a kitchen facility on-site. If that’s the case, choosing a simple menu, or opting for buffet service, will often be an easier route. If you want to have a plated hot entree or a more elaborate menu, there are many ways to work around not having a kitchen or using a venue that is further away from your caterer- as long as you budget for it.  Often this may require additional staff and other costs, such as equipment rental, mileage fees, and staffing transportation costs.  Additionally, it is always good to schedule a site visit, or at least take pictures of the facility, so we can see the space and make recommendations on menu, kitchen space/staging setup, and the overall “flow” of the event.

Service Style

A recent trend in dinner events is shifting away from a formal plated meal, to a less traditional “heavy appetizers” with passed hors d’oeuvres or a buffet with finger food. This facilitates a lighter, more casual event with guests free to mingle and enjoy the party at their own pace. One benefit to passed appetizers is that it gives the event a more “upscale” feel and you have some control over the rate at which the food is consumed.  While it does require additional staffing, you may not have to serve as much food.  Providing a buffet will require less staff than a formal plated meal, and can be an attractive display for your guests to admire.

Full Meal vs. Appetizers

Depending on the time of your event, your guests may not be as hungry.  If you plan to serve a light menu instead of a full meal, and the event is around a meal time, you should specify that in your invitations by saying ‘light hors d’oeuvres will be served’ so your guests know what to expect. The general rule of thumb is that you should provide 4-6 “bites” for your guests for a light snack, 6-8 “bites” for heavier hors d’oeuvres, and 10-12 “bites” if you are providing a meal or a hors d’oeuvres in place of a meal. Are you planning an evening event with alcohol service? You may want to consider including a snack for the late-night crowd.

Necessary Equipment/Serviceware

Once you have a general outline of how you would like to set up your party and what type of menu you might like to provide, it is time to consider what equipment and service ware you may need.  Will you be providing your guests with disposable service ware, or would you like china for your event?  Typically, if you prefer china, it will require on-site staff to clear and wash the dishes. We can give you recommendations on how many staff members you will need for the type of event you are having, to ensure that the event flows smoothly.  Also, consider your menu and the best way to serve it.  Will you need chafing dishes to keep the food warm?  Will you need linens for buffet tables or guest tables?  We can assist you with rental company recommendations, as well.

We believe everyone should be able to enjoy their own event. Hopefully, this guide has been a helpful tool in steering you towards a successful, stress-free day. From the service style to the menu, we want to make sure that you are totally prepared for your event, and that it will be truly memorable for your guests.