Any large event needs a lot of planning. You will need to think about venues, entertainment and logistics, and this can bring about a lot of headaches.
However, one of the most important aspects of any event is the food. It is important to strike a balance of making sure that there is plenty, but without causing waste, picking food that is appropriate for the event and ensuring that is something to meet every taste and requirement.
This can be a lot of work, so we have put together our top tips of things to think about to ensure that your event is a stress-free success.
When planning your catering, you need to think about the type of event that you are hosting. What you plan will depend on whether the event is a wedding, conference, team building day or something entirely different. Once you are clear on the aims of the day, you can start to think about how many people you are expecting to have to cater for.
If it is an invitation-only event then you can base this on the number of RSVPs you receive, whilst sales for ticketed events will give you an idea of the head count.
You need to look at whether your event is in the tens, hundreds or even thousands to then decide what food will be a practical option, both from a cost point of view and in terms of what you can realistically serve.
Many events are now based around a theme, and so you need to make sure that the catering fits in with this. Consider whether everything is based around a colour or a part of the world to find food that is appropriate. You also need to look at whether the event is formal or informal as well as thinking about the time of year and the type of people in attendance.
One of the first things to organise when planning any event is the venue. You need to have somewhere to host, and this will help you in planning the food. Once you know where you will be, you can choose whether it can be used for a formal seated arrangement or a buffet. You can also look at what kitchen facilities it has so you know what can be prepared on-site.
Picking your date is vital. It makes it much easier to organise caterers or to order in the food that you need.
The time of day will make a big difference to the type of food that you offer, so think carefully about whether you are planning breakfast, lunch, dinner or just a few snacks.
It would be lovely to put caviar on everything, but most event budgets do not stretch to this. Set a budget for your food, and this will allow you to work out how much you can afford to spend on each person. Once you know what numbers you are working with, you can plan the ingredients accordingly.
When you plan your menu, you need to think about how many people you are feeding and how many courses you need to supply. This will help you to consider the quantities that are needed, and don’t forget to factor in things like cold food options and drinks.
Whatever type of event you hold, you will have people with a variety of different dietary requirements. Wherever possible, try to find out what these are so that you can cater for them. However, for some events you may not know, and so there will need to be options that are suitable for vegans, vegetarians and those with allergies and intolerances to ensure that no-one is left out or made ill by your food.
Your food might be wonderful, but it can be easily let down by the use of the wrong tableware, or the lack of it. You need to find out whether you are required to supply table linen such as tablecloths and napkins, as well as crockery, cutlery and glassware.
In days gone by it might have been acceptable to serve things in plastic cups and use plastic forks and spoons, but these days your attendees will expect you to have more sustainable options. If you are not using China, glass and silverware then look at tableware that is made from recycled materials which can then be recycled again.
As well as the food that you put on the table while your guests are there, you also need to think about whether you want to supply them with something to take home. This could be a goody bag, a special cake or even a reusable cup.
To make sure your catering works effectively, you need to think about the logistics behind it. Assign roles, devise a plan and create a timeline to get everything organised.
Providing food for a big event is a massive task and so it best handled by the professionals. Source caterers by seeing who is available on the right dates and can meet your budgets. You can ask to see sample menus, and some might even let you try their food.
You need to make sure that your guests know where they are going so check whether you need to send out maps and directions or put out signs to the venue.
It is important to consider what help you will need on the day. Look at the staff you have available and see whether you will need to hire anyone else in as well as looking at who might need to undergo training.
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