If you are hosting a special small event and want to have the event catered, here are four tips that will help you stay within your budget for the event.
#1 Know Your Exact Numbers
One of the best ways to stay within your budget is by knowing exactly how many people you will have attending your event. Try to send out save-the-date cards to your event in advance so that your friends and family members know to keep that date open. Then, make sure that you send out the invitations and request an RSVP in advance of the date that your caterer needs to know the final numbers for food. Don't make the deadline for RSVPing the same as the date you need to get attendance numbers to your caterer. Give yourself about a week in between, so you can reach out to individuals who didn't RSVP in time to solidify your guest list. This should give you enough time to get an accurate number for your caterer, which can help you save money. When planning a small event, the difference between purchasing enough food for 25 verses 35 people can make a big difference in your budget.
#2 Plan For Dietary Restrictions
Make sure that you inquire about your guests' diet habits and restrictions. For example, if over half of your guests are vegetarian, it doesn't make sense to splurge for steak for everyone when not everyone will be partaking in this type of food. Knowing your guests' dietary restrictions can help you make a more informed menu that doesn't break your budget and that your guests will actually enjoy. Make sure that you collect this information ahead of time so that you can use it to plan your menu.
#3 Stick To A Theme
It can be easier to cater for a small event if you stick to a specific theme. For example, if you want to serve Italian food, you can serve bruschetta for the appetizer, a pasta dish for the main course, and an Italian dessert. Keep all three parts of your meal within the same food group family so that you only need to use one catering company for your event. When you start to vary your menu too much, you may need to use more than one catering company to provide the food that you need. Pick a type of food and use that to guide all three courses of your meal.
#4 Limit Choices
Although providing choices is great, don't go overboard on providing too many choices. Your small party can only eat so much food. One or two appetizers will do, and one main dish or a variation of one main dish, such as pasta with or without chicken, will work for the main dish. When you include too many choices, you start to increase the costs of your catering budget for your small event. Keep in mind how much food your small party can actually eat, and choose a few quality appetizers, main dishes, and desserts that you think everyone would enjoy. You don't need to have five appetizers and three main dish choices for a great event; sometimes less really is more.