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When it comes to attending events, there’s one thing that everyone looks forward to. Guests think about this beforehand. They speculate about it and hope that it will exceed their expectations. This is often the reason they decide to attend an event at all. Yes, we’re talking about food and drinks!

Some people may not care about the dancing, the music, the centerpieces… but everyone loves food. People remember the food and often associate memories with certain meals they’ve had.

Allow your mouth to water as we tell you how to wow your guests with your food and beverage options. Keep these nine things in mind when planning the stomach-satisfying aspects of your event.

1. Make sure it Matches

Your food and beverages should match the ambiance/theme of your event. Spaghetti and meatballs are crowd-pleasers, but you may want to go a little more high-end for your elegant dinner party. (Think of people flipping spaghetti sauce onto their shirts or gowns as they try to navigate the pasta.) Likewise, chicken cordon bleu might not be the most appropriate or user-friendly entrée for a circus-themed birthday party for kids. Your food, drinks and desserts must also pair well together. The food options should feel intentional, not random.

2. Presentation, Presentation, Presentation

Did we mention presentation? How the food appears is every bit as important as the look of the centerpieces and the ambience created by the lights. It contributes to the feel of the event so the way that it is served and arranged should be a top priority. Food presentation is a really fun way to get creative and wow your guests. Arranging food by color can be a cool touch. (Just make sure the colors are varied….no one wants to stare at a plate with cauliflower, a chicken breast and bread.) Food towers are always a crowd-pleaser. Live flowers make a great garnish. Sauce art (smear or swirl it) and plate dusting are also striking. The presentation can allow you to display traditional comfort food in a fancy way. Do not forget about the presentation!

3. Don’t Skimp on Dessert

If you’re going to have a cheap dessert that doesn’t taste delicious then you may as well not have it at all. But dessert is a must! The dessert is the last thing your guests will eat so offer options and drive your meal home with a dessert that your guests will be dreaming about it for days.

4. Balance it Out

Some of your guests prefer sweet, others will only indulge in savory. We recommend balancing the sweet and savory to cater to everyone’s preference. If there are a lot of hors d’oeuvres and finger foods at your event, try pairing sweet and savory items together such as chips and cookies or chocolate and nuts. Just don’t forget about our first and second points: make sure it matches and is presented beautifully.

5. Choose a Good Caterer

If you’re hosting a small event, you may be able to manage the food yourself, but even still, food is high maintenance and demands your attention at the last minute—which is precisely when you want to be mingling around and welcoming your guests. You can take the stress out of your next event by hiring a caterer—just make sure that they’re really good at what they do. To scout out the best of the bunch, visit their Instagram page, read their reviews, and talk to people who have used them. Is presentation important to them? Are they easy to work with? Will they work with your preferences and accept your suggestions? Do not choose a caterer at random. Choose someone who understands your vision.

6. Be Straightforward with Your Caterer

If you’re using a caterer, remember that they can’t read your mind, so if you have specific preferences, make sure to communicate them clearly. This will make things easier for everyone involved. Don’t forget to communicate certain food restrictions and tell them right away what your budget is. Working together is key for a positive catering experience.

7. Offer Alternative Menus

Think about your guests ahead of time when planning menus and food options. Do your guests have dietary restrictions such as gluten intolerance, dairy restrictions, or nut allergies? Are some of them vegetarian or vegan? If so, you’ll want to offer more than one choice on the entrées, snacks and desserts. Be sensitive to cultural or religious dietary restrictions, unique preferences, and allergies and intolerances.

8. Fresh and Local all the Way

To have a fresh and local food menu, you must consider what time of year it is. What is currently in season? Guests are always pleased to know what local farm their meat is sourced from, where their seafood is caught or what seasonal fruits and veggies will be a part of the menu. People take pride in supporting their community and eating locally. Take that to heart when planning your menus.

9. Choose Some of Your Faves

There might be leftovers, so you may as well choose at least a few of your favorite foods to enjoy. You’re putting so much effort into this event, don’t forget to honor your own preferences, too.

Bottom line: food is one of the most important aspects of an event. Few things can drive a gathering home like a delicious meal or decadent dessert. Whether it’s corporate conference planning, organizing a wedding, or coordinating a birthday party, food should be a top priority. If the food is top-notch, people will consider your event to be a memorable experience based on that alone.

At Andrew Roby Events, our event planning services include connections to the very best local caterers, and we know which ones to reach out to based on your style and vision. Contact us for help making your next event as delicious as it is beautiful.