Dos and Don’ts of Event Menus

Jan 29

Written by Amy Luong

The smell of freshly baked chicken fills the air as you and your colleagues wait for a luncheon to start. Then, when the waiter places a plate in front of you, you comment about how good the food smells and how delicious it tastes. When the luncheon is over, everyone leaves thinking it was a successful event.

In my experience as an event planner, I know the key to planning a successful event is not only finding the perfect venue and decorations, but also planning the perfect menu. A recent study by Eventbrite showed 74 percent of people will show up to an event if they know food will be served, which is why the menu can either make or break your event.

Below I’ll walk you through the dos and don’ts I’ve found successful for planning the perfect menu.

Do have a budget

Having a budget is important. When you contact a caterer, you want to make sure they can create the menu you want without going over budget. You’ll want to be as specific as possible and provide the caterer with your planned food items to make sure you don’t have any unexpected costs. For example, if you want a chocolate fountain at the dessert table, you’ll want to make sure the dipping items are included with the price of the fountain. 

Don’t go overbudget

While you might want the chocolate fountain at the dessert table, it might not be feasible. Going over your budget means you’ll have to make cuts in other areas of the event you’ve already accounted for, like the centerpieces or music. Going overbudget will cause a lot of headache and should be avoided at all costs. If the food or drinks you plan on serving cost more than expected, you can find alternatives. For example, instead of a chocolate fountain, maybe you set up a chocolate fondue station instead.

Do stick to small bites

If your event is a cocktail reception, provide your guests with finger food like a charcuterie board or small sandwiches. This way guests can eat while they mingle with others.

Don’t do messy foods

While finger foods are the way to go, make sure the menu is easy to eat. Buffalo wings, tacos, and ribs are delicious, but there is no graceful or clean way to eat them while walking around. You should avoid messy foods.