Catering Questions

Above photo compliments of Pop Wedding Photography.

As much as I love all the decorations, fluff and creative details that are involved in each event, at my current job I most regularly give catering advice. For individuals who don’t throw parties or events for large groups, catering and food quantities can be overwhelming.

Now if you’re doing a plated dinner, catering is usually pretty straight forward because the chef and the kitchen take care of quantities, food ordering, etc. But what about those parties that offer more of a mingling, snacking atmosphere? Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way!

1. If price is a concern and your event is over a regular mealtime hour, go for the full meal.
Lots of hosts/hostesses automatically decide to offer appetizers instead of a full meal because it seems like it will be the cheaper option. In all honesty, it’s usually not. If you’re inviting guests to an event, for example, from 5:30-8:00 PM, that’s over a normal dinner hour. Guests will have the same appetite they would at a meal. Therefore, you are going to have to opt for heavy hors d’oeuvres, which a lot of times will come out very similar in price as a full meal.

2. Per piece, per person, by the dozen…this language is so confusing!
Above photo compliments of Pop Wedding Photography.  
Yes, each catering company will have their own way of pricing appetizers. Per piece and by the dozen are easy to quantify in your head, but how much do you order?

Per person pricing is easy to decide on because you figure your food out by your total guest count and don’t have to worry about how much each person will eat individually.

Most per person appetizer pricing is usually roughly 2.5 pieces per person. That accounts for those guests that take an average serving, don’t eat at all and those who load up their plate with appetizers. The more variety you offer, the less of each item you will need order. I

3. Passed hors d’oeuvres are always a good idea.
As long as your group is large enough, I always suggest the idea of passed appetizers for a few reasons in particular. First, it’s a simple way to class up an event and create a fancier atmosphere. And although you usually have to pay more for the service of appetizers versus on a self-serve table, guests are more likely to eat less. And ultimately, that will save you some money. It’s true. When someone is watching you, everyone takes less food.

4. Know your guests and their dietary restrictions.
If there is one individual in a group of 50 that has a dietary need, don’t completely alter your menu for that one person. But it is polite to take allergies and dietary needs into account. I always recommend offering a wide variety of options, especially when it comes to appetizers. Offer a vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut-free and shellfish-free option.

When it comes to more formal meals, obviously it is a little bit harder to dodge all allergies, but it’s always polite to include a notation spot on an RSVP card or make a note on the invitation for guests to voice dietary needs when RSVPing. Most individuals who have these needs are usually pretty good about letting you know and/or avoiding them on their own at the party itself. Most catering companies will offer specialty meals for one-off instances like this.

5. Label, label label!Whether it’s a menu card at each place setting or labels on a buffet table, make sure to include ingredients or warnings about ingredients. For buffet tables, I love to use porcelain labels, such as these ones from Amazon, because you can write on them with dry-erase markers, and they can also double as place cards for smaller gatherings.

6. Opt for a dessert bar.

Dessert bars have been trendy at weddings for a few years now, but they are the old faithful when it comes to hosting an at-home event. Whether you’re filling your table with homemade treats, miniature cheesecakes or doughnuts, guests love to be able to pick and choose. And it’s another fun element to add in something that’s customizable, for example a build-your-own sundae bar or a cupcake decorating bar.

Now I am going to be honest, booze is a whole other topic that usually has THE MOST questions, but I will be tackling that in my next post. For now, happy tasting!

 

Advertisements

Royal Flush

My sisters definitely aced my bridal shower. And I don’t just mean a cute, memorable afternoon that was enjoyed with close friends and family. I mean a royal flush of spades….Kate Spade that is.

hostsTogether with my aunts and Mom, they perfectly crafted a bridal shower that matched all my wishes and pins on Pinterest. They chose a spot in Wauwatosa that I would have never chosen for a bridal shower, but everything worked so perfectly. The shower took place at a cozy wine bar called The Ruby Tap, and the space and staff were wonderful. From the décor to the games to the guests, everything was exactly how I imagined it. Check out some of the details below:

quotesDécor:
Just as Kate Spade is inspired by clean lines and neutrals with a pop of something fun, so was the decorations for the day. Tables were adorned with black linens and long black and white striped runners that spanned the tables. Everywhere you turned, there were quotes on decorative cardstock quoting Kate Spade herself, Coco Chancel and various other girly and funny quotes.

But I would have to say my favorite part about the décor was the adorable dessert bar they created. I always encourage people to double food and decorations because it’s so easy to create a statement with a beautiful, yet edible, spread. And this one they nailed. They turned a high-stop bar table into the dessert buffet by adorning it with a white and gold polka-dot linen. In front, they draped a fringed banner (found here at Target), added a few quotes and let the real statement pieces shine: the cake pops (but we’ll get tot those later).

dessert bar

kissesGames:
I know not everyone enjoys playing bridal shower games because let’s be real, they can be a bit cheesy. But if you happen to know me personally, you know I am a fan of a little cheese. My cousin Mandy had planned out the “He said, she said game” by emailing Ryan and I questions prior to the bridal shower. She made adorable lips and mustache props. Since Ryan and I live so far away, it was a nice way for some of my family and friends to get to know him who have not had ample time to be able to spend with him.

They also played the “Guess How Many Kisses” game, and I have to admit my favorite guess was from my cousin’s adorable daughter, Brynley (she also happens to be one of our flower girls). Her guess was “fifty ninty-nine.” If only I could rock that cuteness onw.

flower girls

And finally, we wrapped up the games with a little prize for the person who drove the longest. My bridesmaid and friend since fifth grade wasn’t able to make it in town from Minneapolis, but her mom made the two and a half hour trek from her house to be there with me. It was not only touching, but the small gesture allowed her to know how much I appreciated her being there.

Food & Beverage:
Ahh, the best part of almost every party: the fare. The shower began at 11:00 in the morning, so it was only customary to serve mimosas. Since the venue is a wine bar at night, they had a complete spread of individually sized champagne bottles, so guests could make their choices based on preference of sweet or brut and which brand they wanted to drink. In addition to that, wine and espresso was offered, along with lemonades for the kiddos and soon-to-be mommy, all complete with black and white and gold and white striped paper straws. I’m tell you, they thought of everything.

As guests were arriving, we munched on cheese boards (it is Wisconsin after all…) and truffle flavored popcorn. And after games, the guests and I enjoyed a light lunch of chicken salad croissant sandwiches and a delicious chopped salad.

cake popsBut as I mentioned before, my absolute favorite thing about the shower was the “Kate Pops,” which were crated by my sister’s co-worker, Jen. I mean, can a a cake pop get any cuter? They were decorated with blacks, golds, pinks and whites, stripes, sprinkles and edible bows. They varied between white cake, chocolate cake and my favorite, red velvet. And I definitely learned not to eat a cake pop covered in black icing prior to gift opening and pictures….whoops!

Not only was the theme absolutely perfect, but being able to spend so much time with friends and family that live far away made my heart full. For someone who is usually behind the scenes on all of this, it was refreshing to be the guest of honor for a change. And to top it off, I can now make my own cake pops using my very own gold Kitchen Aid mixer (thanks, Mom, Alyssa and Katie)!