Planning A Milestone Birthday Or Anniversary Party? How Can You Best Feed Your Guests?

Posted on: 18 August 2016

If you've recently taken on the responsibility of planning a golden anniversary party, milestone birthday, or other large-scale event to celebrate a special loved one (or couple) in your life, you may be equal parts excited and nervous about pulling off an event to be remembered. After renting out a reception hall for the festivities and beginning to draft the guest list, your next step (and often the most time-consuming one) will be arranging food and drinks. Read on to learn more about the most sanity-saving ways to provide dinner and dessert for a large crowd in the mood for celebration.

What food service options will save you the most time and trouble?

Depending upon the venue you've chosen for your party, catering, through a company like Silicon Valley Corporate Catering and Event Management, may be the most seamless option. Many reception and party venues employ their own chefs and catering staff, and can bundle the cost of these services (including gratuities) into the price you pay for the rental. Going with the in-house catering staff can often be among the costliest options, but the convenience provided can be crucial if you're putting this party together at the last minute or planning it without an extra few set of hands.

Outside catering may also be a good choice, especially if your venue doesn't provide its own food. Depending upon whether you choose a full sit-down meal or chilled hors d'oeuvres, you may need to provide a small setup area for the caterers so that they can prepare or warm the food before the event, then refill empty trays with fresh food while the party is taking place.   

Another option is a potluck-style gathering, where each guest brings his or her own signature dish. This arrangement is nearly ideal for the busy host or hostess, as it takes away the burden of providing (or paying for) the food, but can cause some hiccups if not properly planned. You'll want to divide your guest list into several categories (like appetizers, main course, and dessert) so that you don't wind up with half a dozen different types of cupcakes and no side dishes.

Potlucks may be seen as too casual for certain venues (or celebratory events), so you'll want to keep the overall theme or tone of the party in mind when choosing this option – if you're requesting guests wear their finest black tie or cocktail apparel, serving them crockpot baked beans or your aunt's famous mac-and-cheese casserole upon arrival may interfere with the atmosphere you're hoping to cultivate. 

How can you keep your party's food costs down?

Even if others are chipping in on expenses to take some of the burden from you, it's still important to be cost-conscious when planning your party's menu – the more money you save on food and drinks, the more you'll have to spend on décor, music, and other mood enhancers. 

If you do choose to go with a catered meal rather than a pitch-in or potluck, you may be able to significantly reduce your costs by choosing a selection of tapas or small bites rather than a full meal. By mixing and matching the food and selecting only what people will want to eat, your guests will feel fuller on less, and you'll be able to save money on meals that may largely go unconsumed. Tilting the scale away from heavier meat-based meals toward lighter fare and then offering a rich selection of desserts can also reduce the per-head price you pay without compromising quality. 

For those planning an open bar, purchasing your own wine or liquor from a wholesaler and providing it to the venue (or even opting to serve beer and wine only, rather than pricier hard alcohol) can cut costs dramatically.