3 Event Catering Tips That Can Save a Budget

Wondering what to serve at your next event? And when? How about where? The answers to these question can have an impact on your overall budget. Most events have themes or a general format. Then the program is built around that. And that’s a natural progression for sure. But if you’re serving food and beverage at your event it’s important to keep in mind the type of venue, the timing and the menu itself. Because they all can affect your event’s catering budget.

You Don’t Need to Blow the Budget on Event Catering

See there is a way to have your cake and eat it too. You just need to think about your food and beverage as you’re planning the event. Here are 3 helpful tips for catering an event that won’t blow the budget.

  1. The Venue/Facility. It’s always a nice touch, for catering events, to host them in unique spaces. Museums, galleries, can create an ideal atmosphere but they often come with a hefty price. Many of these types of facilities do not have in-house facilities for the caterer. And that means that the caterer will need to bring their own equipment (heating, cooling, storage, serving equipment, for example). That can add a bundle to the overall F&B costs. So if you want to keep the budget down yet have a memorable event, select venues that are equipped with a satellite kitchen.
  2. Time of day/Day of the week. If you have some flexibility you can really save money if you’re willing to start your event at an hour where a meal isn’t required. An event occurring from 4pm to 6pm, or later in the evening, can get away with serving heavy hors d’oeuvres (10 to 12 pieces per person).
  3. Type of food and beverage menu. If you want to control the food portions, and therefore the cost for the food, a plated menu is the way to go. Now I do realize that sometimes there are certain styles of events where plated meals are not conducive. If that’s the case talk to your caterer ahead of time to determine whether food stations or a buffet might be the way to go and still save little bit off the budget.

I’ve also been at some events where the hosts have given out a certain number of beverage tickets rather than having an all out host bar. Again optics can be at play depending on the type of event here. But I find that today most people attending professional events do not over imbibe. So issuing a couple of drink tickets per person may just be the ticket to save your alcohol budget. And with tickets you know exactly how much you’ll spend.

How much alcohol do you need? Use our Drink calculator to help you determine your quantity

Bonus – pay attention to guarantee cut off dates. I know this sounds like a no-brainer for most meeting planners but I can’t tell you the number of events that I’ve organized where the planner didn’t provide a guarantee by the due date (or cut-off date). That means that the planner can be on the hook for a number of people that aren’t attending the event.  It’s important to check with your caterer as cut-off dates/days will vary. Many are from 4 days to a weeks before the event date.

You’ll also want to check out these related articles and podcasts:

Choosing the Right Event Caterer for the Job

Event Catering – The Day We Ran Out of Food

Master The Event – Off Site Receptions and Caterers

Event Catering-What to Do with Leftovers

Many functions will now donate any leftover and unspoiled food to local food banks and soup kitchens. Not that this will save your financial budget, but it is a way to give back to the community. Plus it’ll make you feel good.

Food and beverage events are a staple at many conventions, conferences and meetings. They are ideal the delegates to socialize after a long day of sessions and see what the host city has to offer. Event catering costs can easily escalate. These three tips will help you host a successful event without blowing the budget.

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