Food and beverages are the best motivators behind events, meetings, or parties and unique catering ideas can make your event a memorable one. While events offer a perfect opportunity to entertain people with foods and drinks, it also makes sense to cut on costs since feeding many people can either make or ruin your party. Regardless of the style or size of your event, you can still deliver the best experience to your guests on a shoestring budget if you have the right catering ideas and plan carefully. Below are the top 10 budget-friendly catering ideas for an event.
- Keep it Casual If You Can
One of the best ways to keep costs down is to avoid formal catering styles. Whether you are hosting a team lunch or an office party, it can still be suited to an informal tone. It makes sense to skip a formal three-course meal if you do not have enough money to spend on catering. Pedestal tables can be an ideal option as it allows guests to network and nibble.
- Rent Plates in Smaller Sizes
Guests will often try to maximize the space on their plates regardless of the given size if left with their own choices. This means that a relatively smaller plate may subconsciously discourage them from taking too much or wasting carefully allotted dishes.
- Make it Self-Serve
You can eliminate the costs of hiring a serving staff by opting for a self-serve buffet. Work with a professional caterer to provide finger foods, or food portions that can be laid out for guests or plated and ready to serve. An unstaffed buffet can create more work for the host but also cuts down on costs since staffing creates a big expense for caterers.
- Opt For Simple Dishes
Simple, hearty dishes can make guests full without draining your pockets. Curries, braised meats, stews, rice, and pasta dishes provide a homely taste that people can enjoy. You can swap expensive cuts of meat for affordable ones such as beef brisket or chicken thighs.
- Reduce Spend on Tableware
Look for a caterer or venue that has its glasses, crockery and table linens that can be used without extra cost. You can serve finger foods that do not require cutlery or use an all-purpose style of glass to serve soft drinks, wines, and water.
- Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB)
Allow guests to bring their wines and alcoholic drinks, as they would love showing off their favorite hard drinks. This saves a lot of money since you may find it difficult to choose a variety of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages for guests who have different tastes and preferences. If you prefer serving them your wine, then choose a merchant with a buyback policy as it allows them to purchase back any unopened bottles after the event.
- Play Up Colorful Contrasts
In-season vegetables and visually attractive appetizer ingredients are more affordable than drab fancy alternatives. You can give them prominent placement on different stations or buffet tables where guests are more likely to see them first. Replace costlier ingredients such as lump crabmeat with colorful alternatives such as diced mango and peppers to cut down catering costs.
- Have a Dessert Station
Instead of serving plated dessert at the table, allow your guests to go to a dessert station where you can serve with a wide selection of pastries and cake bites. It allows for guests’ interaction and offers them a variety of choices to satisfy their needs.
- Serve Tea and Coffee from The Bar
Shift your event space to the venue’s bar if you intend to offer hot drinks at the end of a meal or in the breaks. It is cheaper to set up an area for hot drinks rather than paying servers to come around with pots. You can also forego both coffee and tea after a meal without anyone noticing especially if you are dealing with younger guests.
- Stick to Your Budget
There is no point straining your budget on a caterer whose price is out of range. You can still plan a budget-friendly catering event that has the wow factor without going out of your budget. Start planning early and set aside part of your budget for unforeseen contingencies to save yourself the embarrassments.
Adopting some of the above tips will ensure you do not strain your budget on unnecessary expenses that do not have a significant impact on the guest experience. It is important to coordinate all activities, with the event organizer and chief caterer so that every detail of the event flows perfectly as expected.