You have the venue and date of your event set; now what about the food? Planning meal or appetizer services for large groups can be the most stressful aspect of hosting an event. Human interactions have centered around food for a millennium, so it’s important that you make it memorable and delicious. Below are the five steps to follow to ensure your menu selections go off without a hitch.


  1. Know Your Audience


Chances are that if you are including people on the guest list, you know a fair amount about them. If not, try requesting information through email or RSVP details. Armed with some personal information, consider the following: professional level of attendees, frequency they attend similar events, locations where they reside, and ethnic backgrounds. The information will help guide you in the right direction for menu selection.


  1. Food Restrictions


Before choosing your menu, make sure guests do not have dietary restrictions. Food allergies, religious preferences, and other dietary choices can all have an impact on your menu. If you find this to be the case, you do not have to change your menu entirely. Instead, offer alternative menu selections that meet the needs of the special diet requirements.


  1. Time Constraints


Meal types and presentation can be decided by amount of time available. Guidelines for meal length vary. If you only have a 30-minute time slot, box lunches may be an option. For time availability over one hour, your options expand to include plated meals or buffets. Business events are often successful with meals that include food that won’t suffer in quality over a period of two or three hours.


  1. Multiple options


The best way to ensure guests have a meal that suits their preference is to provide an abundance of options. A choice of two or three entrées is ideal, if the budget allows. Offering multiple salad dressings and a variety of condiments is a cost-effective measure that ensures guests can customize their options. At the end of the meal, present guests with at least one healthy and one indulgent dessert option. Dessert is the last course of the meal, so make sure it’s memorable.


  1. Budget


The dampening aspect of planning food for an event is always the budget. Although you may want a sit-down prime rib dinner, this might not be an option now. Be creative with your budget and decide what is most important to you, as the planner. Will one entrée suffice? Do your guests need dessert? Menu planning is all about personalization, so be creative!