What Every Party Planner Must Know Before Hiring a Caterer
Why? It's a fact that people like to eat, and if your guests aren't properly fed, your party may just affect your party planning image.
So today, I'm going to discuss party food, particularly catered food.
Catering, while not always cheap, may just be the easiest choice when planning party food.
Caterers have a very important role in the party planning process, and choosing a good caterer is essential in the assurance that your party food is completely covered.
The first thing to know is that a caterer can provide different elements of food service for your party.
If you're only looking to have the main meal catered, a caterer can help to provide a plated dinner or buffet style service for your guests' meal, or if you only need appetizers, your caterer will be able to provide appetizers for your guests.
You can opt to have your caterer provide beverages or you can choose to provide the beverages for your guests.
Catering does not have to be done one way.
There are a variety of catering options that are made to fit into your budget, while giving you great food service for your party.
Before hiring a caterer, you should first check with your venue to find out if they offer catering.
It's possible that hiring an outside service may not be necessary.
In the event your venue does not offer catering, they may be able to make reputable recommendations.
However, never assume that a recommended caterer is the best caterer for your party needs.
Check out the caterer for yourself.
Contact the caterer for several references that you can communicate with for a well-rounded picture of the services the caterer provides.
Just because one caterer may work wonderfully for one particular event doesn't mean it will work the same for yours.
An example of this would be hiring a caterer for a large crowd who may only have experience in working with smaller parties.
Always get an idea of the types of events your caterer has serviced so that you're not unpleasantly surprised with the outcome.
When contacting your caterer, you should have preliminary information ready, such as what style catering you require.
Will you want to have a seated dinner, buffet, or cocktail style catering? There are many reasons to select any one or combination of these styles, depending upon your budget and/or party planning needs.
A cocktail party menu alternative mostly consists of appetizers, but also may include some sort of beverage selection.
This can be used as a stand-alone choice for something like a traditional cocktail party or small gathering, but it is also commonly used as a starter before a main meal.
Catered main meal options involve choosing from either a seated or buffet style meal.
A seated dinner will provide your guests with a small selection of options to choose from, such as beef, chicken or fish.
The menu pre-selection usually takes place at the time of the invitation RSVP, and assists the party planner with providing the final head count to the caterer.
Seated dinners are generally a less flexible option, and they require more equipment and servers to accommodate guests who will all be served at the same time.
When choosing a buffet style dinner, your guests have more options to choose from and can be more creative with their selections.
Your guests will be able to choose multiple meats, veggies, or starches on the same plate, which is oftentimes a great option if there are guests with special dietary restrictions.
Buffet style dinners present a more flexible dinner that also enables guests to go back for seconds.
Even further, fewer servers are needed to serve a buffet, which means less staff, and oftentimes, a lower cost.
Since catering is such an important part of the party planning process, there are many questions that you should be sure to ask your prospective catering service.
Here are a few that you will want to ask to narrow down your selection: 1.
What is the price range? If your budget is limited, you'll want to know this first, and your answer will be largely contingent upon your number of guests as well as the catering style you've chosen.
What are the menu selections offered? You want to have great options that are within your budget as well as options that your guests will love.
Does the service offer a tasting session? Absolutely do not choose a caterer that will not allow you to taste first.
Very bad things have happened when the party planner has not sampled the food before contracting a caterer for an event.
What do they do best? Your caterer will often present themselves as a well-rounded service; however, there are items that they prepare best, and you should find out what they are.
What is included? You want to know and fully understand all that the caterer will provide on the day of the party.
Will they supply china and linen? Will silver and water goblets be included? (*Note that, in many occasions, if your caterer does not supply these things, your venue may supply them for you.
How early do you have to book? It's important that you know what your timeline is for booking your caterer for your party.
While looking around for the perfect caterer, you must have an idea as to what your selection deadline will be so that you can give your caterer enough time to prepare for your event.
What time will they arrive to set up? You want to have full access to your venue, or for someone to be at home, when your caterer arrives to set up.
The catering option for party planning, while sometimes a bit more costly, can relieve you of the stresses of food preparation prior to the party as well as serving during the party.
If your budget is a bit more constricted, you may opt to have the caterer prepare the food and set up, but not serve.
Sometimes this is an option that caterers will provide, and they will come back the next day to pick up their equipment.
Whichever, option you choose, catering can be a time saver that may prove worth the money if you're bogged down with the other elements of party planning.
Remember, time is money, and there's usually a trade-off of one or the other.
Whether you choose to go with catering or take on the food preparation yourself, your plan for party food should reflect delicious, appetizing selections that give your guests something to rave about when the party is over.