We all want our parties to be a hit and to have our friends to be much talked about by our family, colleagues and friends. So if you really want your party to be a hit, it`s all in the planning. It doesn’t matter whether you are planning to hold a small soirée of four close friends or a corporate event with 200 people, what you serve, how it looks and the entertainment are all integral to the success of the party. For medium to large parties it`s important to follow catering standards for food servings so that you are sure that everyone will have enough to eat.
Budget for Your Party
So the very first thing you need to do before you start any planning is to work out exactly how much money you have to spend on the party. This will dictate how much you can have available to allocate to each aspect and will avoid a situation where you have spent everything on food and have nothing left over for entertainment. Once you have worked out what you have, decide how much you need to allocate to food, how much on drink, entertainment, decorations and so on.
Catering is the most important consideration however many people you have. Obviously, on a small scale it`s fairly easy as you can do the food yourself. If the numbers are over 20-30 it may be worthwhile giving consideration to hiring a caterer. There are a number of things that you need to consider when checking the dietary requirements of your guests, such as how many vegans, vegetarians or pescatarians are attending. Also check whether anyone attending has any food allergies or intolerance’s. For those people who usually find eating out difficult due to a lack of choice, the fact that you have catered for them will certainly make them think of you as a considerate hostess and your party will be deemed to be a success right from the outset.
Calculating the Catering
For medium to large scale catering there is a ‘rule of thumb`when it comes to assessing how much to serve. It will depend on what you are serving and when. For an afternoon through till evening event, you will need pre-dinner appetisers, a main meal and more appetisers for later in the evening. The rule of thumb here is to serve 3-5 pieces per person both before and after dinner.
For an evening shindig which has no dinner you should expect guests to eat around 10-15 pieces person. If you are serving a sit down meal then expect diners to eat around 150 grams of meat or fish per person along with vegetables, potatoes and salad. Add bulk items such as bread to ensure you have enough food.
A sit down meal tends to cost more than a buffet so provided it fits with the event this is a wise choice. Ideas for buffets/finger food are vast and can be easily adapted for the party. A simple buffet composed of British fare; sandwiches, quiche, cake and so on is very popular with a traditional crowd. For younger and more cosmopolitan people why not try something more adventurous generally food with an Asian flavour will go down well Chinese and Indian dishes also work well as finger foods and the options are endless; spring rolls, samosas, spare ribs, schezuan chicken, poppadoms and so on. Other international cuisine ideas include Spanish tapas, Mexican food, Greek mezze or Japanese Sushi. Finger food can also be successfully included in a more elegant party; smoked salmon, hors d`oeuvre and caviar are all well received buffet options.
Try to keep a buffet varied by way of hot and cold options and food colour. Also ensure there is a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables and dessert.
Beverages are just as important as food and you need to have all your bases covered. Just because it`s an evening party, doesn’t mean everyone will drink alcohol so have plenty of soft drinks to serve. For daytime events most people would rather have a tea or coffee so be sure to have the equipment you need to serve these on a large scale if necessary. As a rule of thumb for drinks assume that the average coffee drinker will drink a cup every 1.3 hours, and often more in the mornin. If there are many guests then you may need industrial tea and coffee making equipment to keep up with demand. With alcohol the general rule is about one drink per hour per person.
Entertainment is very important if you want attendees to make your party memorable and and stand out from other parties. For small parties a good choice of music will suffice, but for larger, perhaps corporate events, you might want to think outside the box with a magicians, bands, cabaret or maybe even a bit of burlesque, and a good DJ can really get the place jumping in no time at all.
Parties are all about having fun, but if you are the one planning it, it can often feel like anything but. But a successful party is all in the planning and as long as you have everything in hand long before the event then it should all run smoothly. Following industry rules of thumb on catering will help ensure you neither buy too much or too little food. Making sure you have equipment to help you such as a suitable coffee machine or a tested sound system, will help avoid any hiccups on the day. Once you have your perfect event planned, it`s time to get the party started…
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