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  • Writer's pictureJen Singer

Holiday Party Planning Tips - Selecting the Menu

Updated: Jan 7, 2020

Fall is almost here & the holiday party planning has begun! When coordinating the food and beverage for the average size holiday party (50-250 guests) there are varying menu options available. Knowing what options to consider in the planning process can help you make an informed decision to best suit your guests and budget. Here are a few food service terminologies to assist you with making a selection with your caterer or venue.

Types of food services:

Plated - Typically a 3 - course meal with a salad, entree and dessert. Traditionally the guests will receive the same salad option and dessert, but they will have a choice for the entree course with a selection of either beef, chicken, seafood or vegetarian.

Family Style - A seated meal where food is placed on the table in large serving dishes from which guests serve themselves. Family style can be fun and interactive for attendees, because this type of services allows them to engage with individuals at their tables with the passing of dishes. On the other hand if the attendees do not know each other beforehand this can be a bit awkward.

Buffet - The meal is laid out on tables, so guests can serve themselves. This style of service is casual and allows guests to select the offering that adhere to their preferences or dietary constraints.

Food Stations/Display - This menu option can be visually appealing and may include a cheese platter, crudité or charcuterie display (fancy words for vegetable and meat display). Food stations can also be a chef attended offering with a meat carving option, crepes made to order, a taco bar or a ceviche station. There are many option available with food displays, as well as more involved food stations. In general this style of service can be more casual than the alternatives menus styles.

Tray Passed - Appetizers presented to guests on a tray by servers that walk throughout the event. Tray passing is a compelling option when you want to encourage networking and you're looking to incorporate sophisticated elements of service. This style of service is best if it's coupled with one of the other styles of food service to ensure guests are satisfied with the amount of food available.

When it comes to food service options what do we recommend to our clients? So glad, you asked.

For our corporate clients we typically recommend food stations, buffet or tray passed (many times a combination of the three). We find that our client's main objective for the event is to provide networking opportunities. These types of food service allow for guests to have more interactions with colleagues, clients and vendors.

As an added bonus this options allows for you to account for many food preferences (gluten free, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, etc.) and allergies by having various options on display for guests to select their own preferences.

Are you looking for menu recommendations or assistance with planning your next event? We would love to help!

Contact us today: | (858)243-1746

Schedule a 30 minute consultation to discuss your event planning needs today:

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