Food and Beverage for Events - What and How much do you order?
We all know food is a vital part of events. Arguably one of the most important. If the food sucks, attendees remember it. They also remember if there isn't enough or if there isn't an option for them. Keep the following recommendations in mind to help with your next food order. (Disclaimer: These are recommendations based on my experiences alone. You should consider the specific needs of your group and what is advised by your suppliers and order accordingly.)
What food options should you choose?
There are a few things to consider when you're selecting food. Not only should you think about the favorites/preferences for your key event attendees, but you should also consider social norms for the people you're hosting the event for. Often if they have specific needs, they'll let you know but in the case of really large events where you don't know everyone's needs, it's important to have options. In a world where Gluten-Free can be either a preference or a dire need, food should always be clearly labeled. If you don't know, don't call something free of allergens (your food suppliers should be hyper aware of that).
What about beverages?
As for drinks, it’s important to offer nonalcoholic and sugar free options if you also have bar service. Water should be a given. You can often save by skipping bottles and opting for free flowing dispensers. Some venues will even offer water flavored with fresh fruits and herbs, like cucumbers or strawberries and mint, etc. As for sodas and juices, many venues only offer specific brands. Ask your venue what options they have available.
When it comes to alcohol, what to order is largely of preference. If you know your attendees’ likes, you can of course order accordingly. But what if you’re tasked with deciding? What types of beer or wine should you choose?
Cabernet Sauvignon is an easy group pleaser for red wine. Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay are both group friendly whites. When it comes to beer, most venues will allow several choices. Domestics tend to be more reasonably priced, imports not far off, and craft options can be more pricey but unique and location specific.
How much should you order?
The ever popular question. Venues will usually make recommendations based on other groups your size, but if you must make a choice for yourself, error on the side of more food. While you certainly don’t want to waste, running out of food cannot be easily corrected.
If you’re only serving appetizers, three pieces per person is the general rule of thumb I use. For drinks I plan on two per person, per hour.
If you’re looking for more specific quantities, I go into detail in my Food for Thought masterclass here. Join an upcoming live session or grab the recording to dive in more!