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  • Writer's pictureDining Elevated

9 Steps to Creating The Ultimate Catered Event

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

When you think about hosting a GREAT party, there are a lot of things you need to consider. You don't want to simply host a party, you want to host the Best Party Ever!. 

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, throwing a catered event, or just looking for the perfect excuse to hang with friends, any great event involves adequate party planning. Make sure you plan ahead and have everything in place beforehand so you can enjoy the party along with your guests! There’s nothing more annoying as a host ... or for guests ... than having or being a host who's stressed out over details at the last minute. 

How To Plan The Best Party Ever ...

Planning a party doesn't need to be hard, it just takes time and a clear vision. Here are the steps you need to ensure that your party is a success!

When you’re considering hosting a party, your first decision should be the guest list. Around that, all other decisions will be made. You probably already have the people in mind that you want to invite to your party. So, take the time to ensure you don't forget about anyone special or important to have in attendance. You should also decide upfront whether your guests can bring a date or a “plus 1”. The truth is, this simple decision can double your guest list, alter the location you pick for the party, and drastically affect your budget.

Once you have the size of your party hammered out, as well as the vibe you intend to create, you can choose the location. You can either invite your friends to your house, go to a restaurant, choose a beautiful a banquet hall, reserve a private dining room at a hotel, or book out an entire catered event center.  

If your guest list is going to be long, you might want to consider a restaurant or one of the larger venues. This way, you will be able to spend quality time with your friends, not stressing about the wear and tear on your property, furnishings, and the dining room set you’re serving on in your own house. While your home can add intimacy to the gathering, it will inevitably add a ton of clean up for you the next day. The hospitality industry is set up for this. Hotel banquet halls and dining rooms, fine dining restaurants, and commercial interior design is built to withstand heavy use, spills, and thrills!

#3: Set The Date And Time

In case you’re celebrating a special occasion, a birthday, a work event, etc. then you may already have a date in mind. On the other hand, if you’re looking to simply spend some quality time with your friends and loved ones, then you can set the date and time that’s going to work best for everyones’ schedules. 

Most people tend to prefer parties during weekends, especially on Saturdays, for obvious reasons. This way, they can have a blast at the party and take the Sunday to recover and relax before getting back to their routines on Monday morning. Be careful about scheduling the party on a holiday weekend.  While this may seem like a logical option, most people actually go out of town on holiday weekends and the majority of your guest list may not even be around. 

When you’re looking to host the Best Party Ever, you absolutely need a theme. Use your creativity and pick a theme that you believe your guests will enjoy and will create amazing memories. Use Instagram. Get inspired by the infinite number of event planning services and event planning companies that constantly post images of their catered events. Event planners are some of the most creative people out there and Instagram is their visual inspiration and advertising playground. Event planners like Mindy Weiss are at the top of the class and are worth a follow, for sure. 

One of the things that you should keep in mind is that you should make the theme accessible to everyone. This means that your guests shouldn't have the need to buy special clothing to attend your party. Something like an "All-White Night", for example, is a great example of an accessible idea. If you want to go with a beachy theme, you can find special place setting accents (that can also become party favors) that really hit the theme home. Check out these beach wood flatware rests. If your catered fare is Asian themed, these shorter flatware rests also double as chopstick rests. They’re a fresh idea that add a wow-factor to your memorable tabletop design. 

As soon as you complete your guest list, have your date and time, secure your location, and establish the theme, you should prepare and send out your party invitations. While a simple phone call or even a text might be considered adequate these days, if you’re looking to host the Best Party Ever there’s nothing like sending or delivering unique, hard copy invitations. In them, you need to include all of the basics — the reason for the party, the location, the date, the time, plus 1s, and layer in the theme of the party through your invitation’s design elements. You should also ask people to confirm before a specific date so that you can guarantee their spot and plan for the RSVP’ed numbers accordingly. 

When you prepare the dining table set for your guests, you want to create an inspiring experience for them. Add elements that are unexpected and can be conversation starters. Unique dining table accessories are items that will be interacting with your guests throughout the party as much as you as a host will be.

These small details matter. A lot. They’re also the best and easiest way to provide party favors and take-aways for your dining guests that will make them feel special. When you choose the right flowers, the right votive candles, the right modern flatware, and the right flatware rests — the right dining table accessories set the right mood. 

Speaking of modern flatware, you might consider gold flatware or copper flatware to add a real POP to the tableware setting over the standard choice of stainless steel flatware. If you’ve chosen to go more disposable route, bamboo flatware sets fit that bill elegantly and sustainably. The presentation detail that makes all the difference, though, no matter what utensils you choose, is elevating the flatware sets on coordinating or contrasting flatware rests. Choose from 60 different styles.

#7: The Food

No matter if you are hosting the party at home, in a fine dining restaurant, or a hotel’s catered event venue, you need to decide on the menu. The food and the table service is what brings everything together. You should make yourself familiar with the potential food allergy limitations of some of your guests and make sure that you offer a menu that fits with the general tastes and preferences of your social group. 

Will your catered event be a formal dining one? Will it be a casual dining experience? Consider the pre-meal snacks, the appetizers, the main dish, and the desserts. Oh yes! And drinks! You can't forget about the drinks. From alcoholic to non-alcoholic drinks, you should provide an accessible array of both. Be aware the trends are changing and more and more people are opting for non-alcoholic cocktails. They can still be as fun and flirty as their alcoholic counterparts, so don’t skimp on the sober drinking choices. If you are catering the event yourself, keep copious lists of all of your tasks, like putting the drinks that need refrigeration into the cooler, fridge, or freezer ahead of time, and buy A LOT of ice. You can never have enough ice!

#8: Dining Room Decor

If you’re hosting the party at a catered event venue, they may handle the restaurant interior decoration themselves. All of this can be negotiated upfront. But if you have special tableware accessories that you want to use — that the dining room venue likely won’t provide — or if you want to use any as party favors, then remember to bring those with you. Bring a few extra, in fact, it’s always better to be over-prepared than underprepared. Set the mood. Make it luxurious. Give attention to the lighting. Visit the space ahead of time to make sure everything is right. If everything is handled ahead of time, then when the party guests arrive ... you get to relax and enjoy the party with them! 

Have fun. Play games. Connect. Eat! That’s what parties are for. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and make the night a memorable with all of these people that you care about by being as present in the moment as you can be. That’s the true test of a great host. I promise, if you are really present for your guests and genuinely enjoying it along with them, it will make all of the other work you’ve put in that much more impactful for everyone! 

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