Crafting a Fiesta: Your Catering Planning Guide
There’s nothing quite as fun as throwing a party to celebrate a special life event. Whether it’s an engagement party for a beloved family member or even your dog's birthday party, everyone loves a good celebration!
But if you’ve never planned a party, it can be a little stressful. After all, the party's success depends on your planning and execution. No pressure, right?! Keep reading for an easy-to-follow guide explaining how to plan food, timing, and other catering rules of thumb that will help you throw a party to remember.
How to Create a Basic Party Plan
Before contacting a caterer for your event, you need to have a clear plan. Considering your party's who, what, when, where, and why before reaching out to a catering company can help ensure clear expectations are set and everyone is on the same page.
Many of these items are questions your caterer will ask, so it’s helpful to have answers ready! Before you pick up the phone, ask yourself:
Who is the guest of honor?
If you’re focusing on one person, make sure that the food, entertainment, and decor are things that they enjoy. You don’t want to throw a princess party for a rough-and-tumble tomboy! Similarly, if you’re throwing a celebration for a group of people (such as a family or employees), try to stick to themes they all have in common or are widely popular.
What is my budget?
Determining your budget is critical before you can start planning. A small budget may require more creativity than an unlimited budget, but it can absolutely work. Be honest about how much money you can spend, and don’t overdo it or cut corners where you shouldn’t, like the food!
When will food be served?
If your party starts or lasts into a standard meal time, you should serve that meal. If there will be multiple stages to the event, such as a ceremony and then a dinner, ensure ample time for each portion to occur without feeling rushed. Have an idea of when you want the food set up or served to prepare the catering team.
Where will the party be hosted?
The host venue can have a considerable impact on the entire event. You may have limited space if your party is at someone’s home. However, a high-end boutique hotel may decimate your budget and prevent you from hiring catering or entertainment. It’s critical to balance appropriate space, atmosphere, and budget. Additionally, some venues have restrictions on which catering companies you can hire, where they’re allowed to set up, and more.
Why am I throwing a party?
A backyard birthday party for dinosaur-loving eight-year-olds will have a different atmosphere from an evening retirement party at a country club. What kind of environment, dress code, and timeline will you have?
Additionally, the party's purpose can affect what type of food you order. A formal gala may not be the time or place for bowls of candy and a superhero cake, while your third grader’s end-of-the-year party likely won’t appreciate passed hors d'oeuvres!
How Much Food to Order for Catering
Once you’ve outlined your basic party plan, you’re ready to start planning one of the most important elements: the food! But how do you know how much catering to order? Consider these factors.
1. Number of guests.
Knowing the number of people expected to attend is essential when ordering catering. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most complicated numbers to figure out! For something like a wedding, you can expect about 10-15% of people invited to decline, according to The Knot. For an event such as a low-key birthday party or after-work celebration, attendance may depend on convenience, how far guests travel, and the day of the week.
Electronic RSVPs are a simple way to help you narrow your guest list. To start, your caterer may only need a rough estimate of guests (20-30, 50-100, etc.) and then request a more precise number as the event approaches.
2. Event duration.
A longer event means more food is needed. If your party is several hours long, you may need snacks or appetizers to kick things off and then a meal later. Or if your event starts with dinner but has dancing late into the evening, you can offer a fun treat such as a late-night nacho bar to help soak up the effects of the open bar. If you want your guests to remember the party fondly, don’t hold them hostage with rumbling stomachs!
3. Menu variety.
There’s a reason that many weddings only offer the choices of chicken, steak, or vegetarian meals. The less variety you present, the less food you have to purchase. If you plan to have an extensive menu, you’ll have to buy plenty of it or risk running out of popular items. Alternatively, an option such as a build-your-own taco bar from Burrachos allows your guests to have variety with plenty of toppings to choose from while still limiting the amount of food you have to buy.
4. Dietary restrictions.
It’s impossible to please every guest, but it is important to consider dietary restrictions, especially allergies. If a guest has a food allergy or major restriction, providing safe options for them to eat can make or break their experience. An easy way to manage this is to offer a space for guests to mention allergies or restrictions in their RSVPs.
Plan the Perfect Fiesta with Burrachos Mexican Food Catering
Burrachos makes planning your next catering event easy. We'll work with you to create the perfect Mexican food catering order for your needs — whether you're planning a small get-together or a huge fiesta. And we'll make sure you have everything you need to feed your guests, including plates, silverware, serving tools, and extra napkins! Reach out today, and let's get started on planning the food for your event!