You are a foodie and because of that you have been tasked with finding a catering service for your next event. It sounds like so much fun to plan the menu for the party but where do you start? Hiring a catering company is a little different than cooking at home or enjoying a meal at a restaurant – it has its own lingo and understanding how the industry works will enable you to find the best vendor while staying within budget and pleasing a variety of palates with different menu options. When hosting a company event in San Diego it’s recommended to check out our San Diego tours. Here are some suggestions to help you be a hit!
Where’s the Party at?
If you are planning a party at your office or a private home, you can choose any outside food vendor that you would like. If you have rented a venue, you will want to check with them first to see if they have a preferred list of caterers that they work with before making your selection. Some venues only allow those they have contracted with to work in their spaces. If your event will be held at a restaurant, you will most likely need to partner with the restaurant for food and beverage.
Understanding your Budget
There is a lot to prepare for and while budgets are customary for any type of event, one of your biggest concerns may be how to pull off the catering while not appearing too frugal. Can you provide the delicious meal you want to and a bar? Here are a couple of ideas to keep you within your budget but still throw an event with amazing food! To keep the cost down, consider doing just heavy appetizers. Guests like to be able to eat and socialize at the same time and bite-size items may be just what you are looking for. You can do server passed appetizers and an appetizer station where people can dish up their own to add variety. When thinking about the bar, consider just beer and wine or offering drink tickets. Drink tickets are a great way to control spending – offer a cash bar for those that want more than just the tickets they were given.
You can also consider hiring a company like So Diego Tours to help you utilize the most of your money. Not all the quotes you are given will include gratuity and tax which are added onto the final invoice so make sure to budget for them. You may also hear terms like food and beverage minimum – this is the amount you need to spend. If you are under this amount, you’ll still be charged it plus gratuity and tax, so you might as well order enough food and drinks to meet it!
Matching the Catering Style to the Event
You will want to hire a catering company that will fit within your budget and compliment the style of event you are throwing. If your event is a casual office party, a delivery drop-off like pre-made sandwiches, pizza or some other type of takeout restaurant might be the perfect fit. If you’re bringing together a group of people for a special event that don’t know each other very well, a cocktail event with heavy appetizers might be the right choice. If you are celebrating something special like company awards or a Holiday party, a sit-down dinner might be there perfect thing. Understanding how guests will socialize at the event will help you decide what the best fit is.
Keep in mind that you will want to make sure your venue has the adequate tables, chairs, food service items, etc. that you will need. If you are throwing the event at your office or a private home, there are party supply rental companies you can use to rent these items. Most venues or restaurants will have the equipment you need or will have the option for you to rent the extra things as an add-on.
Planning the Menu
It is commonly known that most party planners (experienced or first timers) over-order when it comes to food. By ordering too much, not only do you waste food but money you could be spending elsewhere on the event. If you are planning the event on your own versus using an event planner – utilize the catering management at your venue to help you make the most of your budget.
When planning your menu with your catering services remember that you will need to appease to a variety of palates. When selecting your items, you will want to pick some vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free options. To keep your costs down, be conscious of which items are more filling at a lower price-point. Meat and Seafood tend to be the most expensive so select wisely! Dips and spreads go a long ways and fill people up while usually on the lower end of the price point (plus they look great on an appetizer table)! If doing a sit-down dinner, consider a family-style option – essentially bringing the buffet to each table so guests get a variety of delicious food choices like a buffet but don’t have to get up and wait in line. This option is usually priced similarly to a buffet but gives the allure of a plated meal! If your budget allows, there are many add-on items like chef-manned (interactive) appetizer stations, seafood sculptures, plated dinners or a full bar with signature cocktails.
Assistance Planning your Event
If you are feeling overwhelmed by all the catering options or it is taking too much time, consider hiring someone like So Diego Tours to take on the work. They will sit down with you to understand your group’s needs and can then use the relationships they have built with vendors to save you time and money and take the hassle out of planning the event. Rest assured they will keep you as involved in the process as you’d like to be – even if that is just tasting the menu selections prior to the event!