When you first start planning your party, event or wedding food / catering you want to outline what is of the most importance to you. Think about the space and flow of the event that you envision.
Will your event be at home or an event venue?
If you plan to have your event at a private home venue there are factors involved with getting the location ready such as (having enough bathrooms, having hand washing and sanitation areas, spraying for bugs prior to the event, a level area for a tent to be set up at, setup and clean up of the home prior to event and after, and much more. Check out a previous post about this here)
Are guests mingling the whole time?
For this you may consider stations or buffet.
Do you want to offer a little speech at the event or present the food? This would require guests to be seated at some point.
All of the different ways to have a party or event require different budgets.
Intimate gatherings can of course cost a lot or a little depending on where, when, and what you are serving just like a large gathering, wedding or event.
A gathering for 10 can cost as much as one for 50 if you are serving steak and lobster instead of gourmet pizzas.
TYPES of Food Service
Buffet or Cafeteria Style Service Guests walk up to a table and are served or dish their own food. For cleanliness we recommend a disher. Requires the least amount of servers
Stations - Similar to a buffet a series of small buffets usually incorporating one to two items at each. A disher at each station to serve the food to guests as they come up.
Plated - A meal served to guests once they are seated. Involves you pre-selecting 1,2,or 3 entree items for guests to choose from when they RSVP. This type of service require more service staff to efficiently get food out to your guests while it’s warm.
Tray Passed - Servers walk around with trays of appetizers and one to two bite items and napkins for guests.
Family Style- Similar to a plated option but instead of a plate coming tot eh table with food on it for each guest a few large plates containing a protein (chicken, beef, fish), Vegetables, Starches ( rice potato, pasta), and Salads.
Pot Luck- Guests bring dishes to share with entire party. ( For health and safety we would say this is the riskiest of the options and dont recommend unless it’s immediate family only attending).
What questions to ask yourself.
How many guests will I have?
Remember the more guests the more expensive. Not just with food but with dressing the tables, servers, flatware, glassware, china, etc.. It’s more than just the food, it’s also what it’s served in and how.
How much do I have to spend on food ?
The national average for a catered, plated chicken meal (potentially with an app or two) with a from start to finish with tax and service included is about $100 per guest.