21 Incredible Catering Ideas for Your Next Event
Catering a special event calls for a lot of preparation and great organizational skills. Figuring out the menu is the first of many challenges. After that there is staff to consider, seating arrangements and making sure food safety is a priority. The following are 21 ideas to help you pull your next event together like a pro.
Budget Friendly Items
A donut bar is not only delicious, but it can be visually appealing as well. Choose different types of donuts with toppings in a variety of colors and textures. Biz Bash provides several ideas for displaying these sugary delights. You can display donuts by hanging them on wall pegs and sticks, or elegantly arranging them on cake platters.
Breakfast foods are a great idea for a catering event because there are so many items to choose from and most of them are relatively inexpensive. Seasonal fruits, cereals, pancakes, eggs and potatoes are all traditional breakfast foods that are budget friendly. To keep overall costs down, choose one type of meat and buy in bulk if possible.
3.Baked Potato Bar
Toppings for baked potatoes are almost endless. Everything from cheese and salsa to basic butter and sour cream are great options. According to Chowhound baked potato bars are also good because they provide something for both carnivores and vegetarians. If you want to get creative, add some sweet or baby potatoes to the bar.
Items that Don’t Take up Much Space
Fruit cups are a great option for almost any summer catering event. Blueberries and cherries are good choices for cups since they’re small and don’t need cutting. Avoid bananas because they’ll turn brown quickly after they’re cut.
Pretzels are a good choice if you don’t have much room. Both big soft pretzels and those that are smaller and crunchy and are easily stacked in a basket or small tray. Use squeeze containers for sauces to save room and limit the mess.
Cookies are another great choice that can easily fit into a relatively small area. Cookies look good left out in the open or displayed in pretty glass cookie jars and containers. If you’re feeling artistic you may want to create patterns or designs with different types of cookies on a flat surface.
7.Retro Comfort Foods
Macaroni and cheese, chicken and noodles, and lasagna are a few of the old fashioned comfort foods that many people enjoy. You may want to pair foods that are lighter and easy to make, such as green beans, with comfort foods.
A good seafood bar will likely require a little more planning and a bigger budget, but will almost certainly be impressive. Fresh shrimp and mini crab cakes are always favorites when it comes to seafood. Whole Foods recommends having lots of crushed ice on hand and discard bowls available.
International dishes are gaining in popularity. Mexican, Chinese and Italian are favorites almost everyone likes. If you’re looking for healthier fare with lots of vegetarian options, try Japanese or Vietnamese.
Easy Eating Items
Finger sandwiches are perennial favorites and a classic catering option. If you go this route make sure to provide plenty of choices. Mix up a variety of breads, meats and cheeses.
If you’re looking for something fun and easy, a candy buffet is popular with kids and adults. Arranging candy in groups of colors is always appealing or you can go for a dramatic rainbow look. It’s important to keep temperature in mind when displaying chocolate candy.
You can arrange everything from fruit and cheese snacks to filet bites on toothpicks. Make sure to have plenty of napkins and extra toothpicks on all the tables. It’s also important to have plenty of prep time to get everything on the toothpicks before guests arrive.
Make Safety a Priority
Complete as much food prep ahead of time as possible while keeping food freshness in mind. It’s essential to practice good hygiene from start to finish. Make sure plenty of gloves are available and encourage hand-washing when starting to prepare any new items.
14.Plan for Refrigeration
Whether it’s making sure you have access to electrical outlets for actual refrigerators or preparing trays full of ice, it’s essential to keep cold foods chilled. According to U.S.News, food with mayonnaise shouldn’t be at air temperature for more than two hours. If the temperature is over 90 degrees, only one hour is acceptable.
15.Keep Hot Foods Hot
It’s actually easier to keep foods warm than cold, even without electricity. Chafing dishes are budget friendly options to consider. Disposable chafing trays and wick fuel are relatively inexpensive and can keep food warm for hours.
Choose a Style
A buffet is one of the most popular and easiest ways to serve guests. One trick of the trade is to place items that are easiest to prepare or that you have the most of at the beginning of the buffet. Keep more expensive items or those you may run out of at the end. Many people will already have their plate full by the time they get to the end of a buffet.
Stations showcase different types of food and can be visually appealing. It’s important to keep organization in mind if you decide to go with stations. Number your stations and make sure guests have an easy path to follow between each. According to Brides, stations are an excellent way to incorporate themes. You could serve a variety of international foods with items from different countries at each station.
Family style would be a good choice when serving retro comfort food. This serving method often provides a more efficient and intimate style of serving food. It’s important to make sure there is plenty of room on all the tables for serving dishes and tableware.
Pull it All Together
19.Choose a Staff
What type of staff you’ll want to have will largely depend on your serving style. Even for small events you’ll want to hire at least two individuals so you’ll be free to enjoy your own party and mingle with guests. You’ll need a bartender for serving drinks and least one server to make sure guests have everything they need.
If you’re going to decide ahead of time who sits where, there are a few options to consider. The first is to print up name cards and assign each guest an individual seat. Another choice would be to assign groups of people to a specific table and let them decide where at the table each of them will sit.
21.Quick Clean Up
Clean up is almost always the least fun aspect of any gathering. There are lots of elegant yet disposable dishware available. Using these types of items as well as pretty tablecloths will keep your party posh and easy for clean up. If you’re hiring a staff, make sure to include clean up.
Starting early and getting organized are crucial for planning any successful event. Following these 21 tips will help you set up a fantastic party from start to finish!