Published on Feb 11, 2019
Hosting a party can seem like a daunting challenge particularly when there are large numbers of guests involved, all with different tastes and interests. This is why it’s important to start your event preparations as early as possible so that you have plenty of time to address any complications that arise.
You need to decide what the nature of your event is going to be and then find a venue that meets your requirements. You need to be thinking about how many people are going to attend and whether the venue you have in mind will hold those guests. Some venues will lend themselves to a unique theme. For example, if hosting in a waterfront destination you might want to consider serving a seafood-themed menu. You also need to pay careful attention to the weather if you’re catering to a party that’s outdoors. Should you be under a marquee and an unexpected spell of wind and rain strikes it’s definitely going to dampen the mood. We have a free venue finding tool that you can use.
When it comes to food catering it might be worth considering a simple buffet option for larger groups as this can be prepared in advance quickly and easily. Or you could look into hiring out a food van with options such as fish and chips or pizza on the go. This not only feeds everyone but also includes the novelty factor too! If you’ve got more time and resources then a set menu with multiple choices for guests is a winning option. Give just a couple of choices to avoid it becoming too complex and be sure to make note of anyone with dietary requirements or allergies. It’s usually advised to offer a meat or fish option and a good vegetarian option as this generally covers most bases. Have you thought about canapes too? Who doesn’t like a nibble on entry? Canapes are relatively easy and cheap to do so it’s worth looking into!
You’ll need to check in advance what sort of catering options the venue is suited for. Smaller venues may have limited cooking facilities and some might have restricted storage spaces or insufficient space for food prep. Whether you are catering a party yourself or hiring a company to do it, it’s important to check this out as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary drawbacks. Be sure to also decide the layout of your venue (if this is something that you can control.) When deciding where to put up the bar area try not to make it too close to the front door as it can create a frustrating bottleneck when people arrive.
Think also about if you would like a champagne and canape reception when deciding how to cater for a party. This can be a nice touch and make people feel that extra bit special on the night, plus the fizz is a great added way to get people in the mood to party! Don’t forget to calculate how many glasses you want to give per person and work out how many bottles you will need. Take into account some will opt for a sneaky extra glass so be sure there is more than enough to go around so nobody misses out.
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Another top tip for how to cater for a party is to never underestimate the power of a list! Write down which guests will be attending and their dietary requirements. Be sure to specify if they can bring a plus one or not because you don’t want uninvited guests who you haven’t planned for showing up on the day. Create a calendar and assign tasks to specific days, and be realistic with yourself when setting deadlines as it will only stress you out if you’re not. When planning for the actual day be sure to allow enough time for food preparation and things such as washing dishes (if you are doing this yourself) and packing the food for transport. These are often activities which if you are doing yourself can be dismissed as a quick chore or even forgotten, but in actual fact they can take up a fair amount of unplanned time.
Be sure to also figure out how much food you will need per person. When preparing a set menu it’s easy to keep count when you’re serving for example, one burger or piece of fish each, but you will also need to calculate the numbers of sides such as potatoes or vegetables. A lot of caterers get around this by assigning set quantities per person. For example, 60g of vegetables and 90g of potatoes. This makes it easier to work out how much to purchase and won’t leave you with half-empty plates being served or sacks of potatoes or vegetables left over at the end and unnecessary expense spent.
If you are hiring help for your party then be sure to check reviews in advance to ensure they are reliable and also to factor this cost in when budgeting for your event. This is one of the most important things to think about when it comes to how to cater for a party, so it’s best to source your outside help sooner rather than later. Equip them with a copy of the menu in advance so they are well aware of what is expected and also be sure to give precise instructions for the day. If you want to set a strict dress code – such as black and smart – be sure to outline this prior to the event, and if you want an aspect of your party conducted in a specific way, such as the food laid out in a particular fashion, make sure these instructions are clear and understood. It’s a good idea to provide your external help with a timeline of the event so they’re well rehearsed and prepared for the event ahead.
If there is one thing to take from this blog on how to cater for a party then it’s to be prepared well in advance. Figure out early the main components such as venue, numbers, food type, canape reception months in advance so the finer details can be fine-tuned nearer the time. Stay organised, keep it simple and remember the main goal is for the guests to have a good time. You’ll be an expert at how to cater for a party in no time.
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