How to Choose a Menu for your Event
Most people have strong opinions about food, and that includes your event menu. Attendees will remember an outstanding meal and they’ll never forget a bad one, so create your menu with care. Read through these 5 tips for choosing a menu for your event and attendees will leave satisfied!
1. Know your guests and your headcount
As with many choices you’ll have to make while planning, it always starts with knowing your audience. For example, if your guests are fitness fanatics, nutrient dense salads and superfood smoothies will likely go over better than fried chicken and mashed potatoes (although most people tend to like comfort food). Before you start meeting with caterers, be sure to have your best estimate on the number of attendees, as well as a sense of their preferences.
2. Ask for flexibility
Most caterers are flexible when it comes to offering a variety of dishes. This is very important as your guests will have varying dietary allergies, preferences and needs. Regardless of the style in which your serve your food, we suggest offering meat/fish, gluten free and vegan options. Of course, the only way to understand what your guests need is to ask. Be sure to ask for food choices and dietary restrictions on your invitation RSVP. And don’t forget that some guests don’t drink alcohol! This is sometimes overlooked, but offering specialty non-alcoholic drinks or mocktails is a nice touch.
3. Stay on theme
What is the bigger goal of your event, and do you have a theme? Your menu should align with your theme. For a sports-themed event, BBQ, tacos, beer and pub grub is perfect. Are you launching a new natural skincare line? Rosehip tea and cucumber finger sandwiches may make more sense. Brainstorm with your team and consider polling your guests beforehand if you need more help. Don’t forget to make sure that your food and beverage options compliment one another.
4. Style of service
There are a few choices you’ll have to make when it comes to service style. To begin with, is your event formal or casual? Your answer may impact whether or not you want to offer table service or buffet style. Table service is relaxing and eliminates any burden to your guests however buffet style enables control over what goes on the plate and encourages breaks, movement and networking. You’ll also want to consider whether or not fixed meals or à la carte is best. Lastly, does the length of your event call for built in snack time/breaks and/or a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres hour? Be sure to discuss all of these options with your caterer.
5. Enhance engagement with food action and local goods
Interactive food and beverage stations are a sure way to keep your guests engaged and can help steer your menu choices. Whether it’s offering a cooking class, a create-your-own-smoothie kiosk, or a chef-attended cooking station where attendees watch their food being prepared in front of them, an interactive experience is fun and memorable.
We also suggest taking advantage of local goodies as trying regional foods and/or traditions is part of the fun and a fantastic way to support the community. Check out local farms, food trucks and chefs and consider bringing them in on the action.
As you start talking with caterers and food service partners, keep these tips in mind. Remember, it’s critical to gather feedback from attendees before the event, specifically in regards to allergies and dietary restrictions. Confirm menu choices with your guests and your caterers. Caterers will expect some changes and will usually allow them up to one or two weeks before the big day — make sure you’re aligned on such during your meetings! Lastly, make sure you carve out some time for yourself during the event to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
How Can MeetingPlay help?
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