Sunday, October 11, 2015

10 Holiday Party Tips From The Caterer

{10 Holiday Party Tips}

With the holidays just around the corner, I know many of you are starting to plan your get-togethers for the season. One of the most important aspects of a holiday party is a great spread of food. I know it can be overwhelming trying to find the best caterer for your party. So here are a few tips from someone in the business to help make the search a little easier!
10 Party Planning Insights From The Caterer
1. Before you pick a caterer, determine your roof-top price. What is the highest amount you are willing to spend per person, including tax? (and if its a full service event, including gratuity as well.) You need that answer in your arsenal when searching for the best caterer.
2. Choose a caterer based on their food, not because they are the hottest thing since sliced bread. A good caterer will offer you a tasting of their food so you can get an understanding of their style and flavor profile. That's the only way you'll know if the food is a good fit for your event.
3. Once you've chosen your top 3 caterers, start talking money. It is not rude to say, "Here is my budget per person and I have "x" amount of guests. What can you offer me?" Actually, I prefer a client who is straight forward and open to recommendations. The caterer will know the best menu for your budget.
4. Express your vision for the event. The caterer wants to know that you are planning a evening of mingling and there will be limited seating. Or that you are hosting an intimate dinner party. Details like this will help the caterer suggest an appropriate menu based on their selections.
5. Heavy appetizers DOES NOT mean cheaper prices. Its actually the opposite. The average price is $2-$4 per piece because you are paying for all of the time that is required to create those delicious bite-size apps. You try cooking and assembling 200 mini cheeseburgers topped with onion straws! If you are budget conscious, stick with a traditional buffet.
6. Talk about the amount of food. Does the caterer bring exact portions or do they bring a little extra for those "just in case" moments? That's important to know so that you order the right amount of food. Also, if you are having children attend your event, ask the caterer's recommendation for including them in your guest count. With our portions, we count 2 children (under 10) as 1 adult and all of our portions are based on adult servings.
7. Having a party over 50 guests? Do not skimp on ordering serving staff. Most caterers supply their own staff for large events and for good reason. Only the caterer knows how their food is supposed to look/taste, how the food was prepared (dietary questions) and food-safe procedures.
Plus, how can you be a good host when you are busy playing caterer as well? For a minimum of $100, you can relax and entertain your guests, knowing your party is being well managed.
8. Ask your caterer what size plates they recommend for the event. If you purchase a plate that is too large, you could run out of food before all of your guests get to eat. For my events, I recommend a 9" plate for dinners and a 6" plate for appetizers.
9. Its time to talk about money again. Make sure you know exactly when the final payment is due. Ask about taxes and gratuities. If you aren't sure what percentage of gratuity is customary or when it should be distributed, just ask. You also need to know if any deposits are due to reserve your date.
10. Important Dates: every caterer has a deadline to confirm guest counts and make changes to your menu. Make sure you know them. Put the dates in your phone an set reminders. If you can save a few dollars because Sally and John cannot attend your party, its worth it.
I hope these tips help with your upcoming holiday party and if you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask.
Best Wishes & BBQ,
Marlowe Whittaker
Catering Sales Manager
(865) 414-9417


  1. Gratitude for sharing these holiday party tips here. I am going to host a food party at some local venues in NYC on my 30thbirthday so these tips from professional caterers would be quite helpful for me. Hey, if you have decoration ideas then please share that too.

  2. I've been to so many parties where, as you say in number two, the caterers are there because they are hip and cool, but the food doesn't quite have the same standard! These are very good suggestions surrounding money, too. If I ever organise a large party and need to hire caterers, I will bare these tips in mind. Thanks!

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