4 Ways to Serve Food at Events

A lot of planners dread planning events that include food (and beverage). It’s not that they don’t like the events themselves. It’s just that many planners are afraid that they’ll run out of food (been there) or didn’t stock that special beer that the company president likes (done that). I did that once for a president of a beer company (turns out I stocked his competitor’s beer… oops).

But, as the saying goes, you learn from your mistakes.

4 Types of Food and Beverage Service

  1. Plated/ Served meals (this can include French/Russian/family style)
  2. Food Stations (Separate areas for the different food offerings. Often includes a carving station.)
  3. Buffet (guests forma continuous line (sometimes two-sided)
  4. Receptions

Suggested food service for various types of events

If your event is a sit down dinner:

  • Plated/served meal
  • Food stations
  • Buffet

If your event is a cocktail reception:

  • Passed hor d’oeuvres (budget 5-10 pieces per person for regular and 10-12 pieces per person for heavy (i.e. near a meal period).
  • Food stations

It’s recommend not to have seating for your total number of guests. That way they’ll mingle and the atmosphere will focus on reception. Cruiser tables are great for receptions. They are the high top tables where people can stand.

If you want guests to mingle at your events:

  • Passed hor d’oeuvres
  • Food stations
  • If your event is occurring before a gala dinner
  • Passed hor d’oeuvres (keep it light, around 5 pieces per person)

Make sure that you know exactly who is responsible for obtaining the necessary liquor licenses. The responsibility can vary by venue. You don’t want to be surprised on the day of your event to find out that it was your responsibility to obtain the necessary permits/licenses, etc. Also if your event is outdoors, check and see if there are any noise by-laws that may demand that the event stops at a certain hour. Yes, the venue should bring that to your attention, but I also recommend to double check that one.

Selecting food and beverage service for your event doesn’t have to stressful. Trust your suppliers and use their expertise, that’s part of what you’re paying them for. They, more than anyone, know the space and what works and what doesn’t.   And don’t forget to add the right entertainment to compliment the overall setting (more on that in another post).

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