Organising a large event and need to bring in some catering? When you’re planning an event with a guest list with 300+ people, the thought of large scale event party catering can be a little daunting. The last thing you want is to run out of food, have too much food, have delays or have your catering executed or delivered in a way that doesn’t match the event style or venue layout.
At Paella del Mar we’ve catered for huge events – both corporate and private of 300, 400 & 500 pax – and have a few tips that can help make things a little easier. Here are our 5 best tips for successfully catering a large event.
1. Have a solid idea of guest numbers
Whatever you do, don’t try to organise your party catering before confirming guest numbers. You may have a vague idea (e.g. somewhere between 300-500), but that vagueness can go a long way when it comes to food. Knowing your numbers is essential to pulling off successful event catering that lets each guest go home feeling full and happy. To help get things started, have a minimum number that you can build on so your caterer can start the process of quoting and project planning – and can then add to the set minimum.
Of course, you’ll never be able to know the exact numbers of your guest list on the day, but do your best to get confirmation beforehand. Set your RSVP date to be at least a few weeks ahead of the event, and make sure guests disclose their dietary requirements when RSVPing. This will help party caterers to plan ahead for all diets, and makes sure nobody will go hungry at your event.
Consider adding a few orders on top of your final number, just in case a few extra people do arrive, or some big eaters want some seconds. Always good to keep everyone happy and full.
2. Know your budget so you can manage your costs
It’s really important to know your budget when briefing your catering company so you can guide them on how much you want to spend in total, or per person. You don’t want to brief a party caterer and have them come back with a ridiculous quote that blows your budget (and mind) and then have to start all over again.
Think about what your total budget is, and how much food you want to serve each guest. Do you want canapes and mains, a big grazing table for everyone to pick and choose, or mains and desserts? Provide some ideas and work on a brief together with the caterer to find the best solution.
3. Consider your event style and venue layout
The next thing to consider before ringing up your party caterers is the event style and venue layout. If you’re planning a casual affair, you’ll want more social food delivery and funner snacks that are crowd pleasers. If you’re hosting to families you’ll want the party catering to account for children’s tastes and also adults, and if you’re organising a formal corporate event you’ll want to make sure the food is impeccable.
The venue layout also plays a huge role in the type of party catering you’ll need, especially when large guest lists are involved. It can be too easy to have guests crowding around, creating congestion and ruining the flow of your event. Consider whether guests will be seating or standing, whether you want the catering to be delivered upon entry to the venue or later on, and how the venue layout may affect the delivery of your catering. You’ll want a good idea of the types of food you’ll serve and how people will circulate around the venue.
Design of the space is really important as well, and the event look and feel will depend on whether you’re hosting in a blank shell and need some props and styling or just need delicious food to complement the existing layout. Speak to your event caterer to discuss your brief and determine the best solution.
4. Crowd pleasers are best
While you might want party catering that’s innovative, unique, or reflective of your own personal tastes, it’s best to stick to crowd pleasers when catering for larger events. With larger guest lists you’ll be dealing with more diverse tastes and palates, and so the best way to go is to deliver crowd-pleasers that are popular with pretty much everyone.
You may have been excited about the sashimi and caviar, but maybe save those foods for next time for a more intimate setting. Wholesome healthy meals will be appealing for everyone, and give your crowd a smile.
5. Consider food execution
The execution of your food delivery and party catering can make or break a large event. Timings are critical and knowing how much prep and cook time is required from your catered on site will help align to your overall event planning and schedule. When you have guest lists exceeding 300+ people, you want to make sure that the food options are easily replenished and within easy access of all guests at all times. You don’t want the food to be hidden away and hard-to-reach (which just means leftovers & food waste), and you don’t want tables to be filled with empty platters, either.
Party catering for large numbers should include foods that are easily prepared, easy to replenish, and easy-to-eat by guests. If you’re planning on having a buffet table, grazing table, or food station where guests can serve themselves, map out the best places in the venue to set them up. If you want guests to line up for their food, consider the position of the cooking and space required. It’s also important to consider the amounts of leftover plates, cutlery, and glassware that might be strewn around the venue, and to have an action plan ready – or go with eco-friendly disposable plates & cutlery! With large guest numbers you’ll want to have someone specifically going around cleaning up napkins and dinnerware to keep the event from looking untidy.
Planning a large event and need to bring in some help? At Paella del Mar we’ve catered for huge guest lists with a range of cuisines that includes Spanish, Moroccan, Mexican and Asian. We can manage slow and fast service, styling and theatrics, and we know all the ins and outs of pulling off party catering that’s a hit with the crowds. Get in touch now and let’s plan the food for your next event!