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Catering Services: What Do I Need to Know

by Amber Sell

When you hear the word "party," what is the one common element at every party that immediately pops into your mind? If food wasn't the answer you were thinking of, it should be. Food is always an essential ingredient for any party, including wedding receptions, corporate events, super bowl parties, family reunions, or bridal and baby showers. In fact, when we attend a party, we expect to eat some delicious food, whether it's appetizers and snacks or a full-course meal.

If you've ever attended a large event or a party, you've probably experienced a catering service and have seen just how helpful they can be with taking some of the stress off the party host. Catering seems pretty straightforward and simple: you cook some food and serve it, right? That is the basic idea, but there's more to it. In this article, we'll take you behind the scenes so you know what to expect the next time you hire a catering service. Your vision is paramount to any caterer. With these few simple tips you will be better prepared so the catering service can execute your plan and fulfill your every wish.

The Location

Before you begin anything else, you need to have the location, date, and time completely finalized. Depending on where you are hosting your event, a catering service may be available on site. This can be beneficial because they are familiar with the layout, coordinator, etc. If you have to bring in a caterer, make sure the catering staff is completely aware and comfortable with the location in advance.

The Budget

To decide your catering budget, ask yourself how important the roles of food and drink will play at your party. Are you having formal sit-down dinner with a four course meal or trays of appetizers that are merely there to nibble on? Do you have a theme or style at the event that will be reflected in the food? It is also important to know the following factors: the number of guests, the number of courses or food choices to offer, the cost of the food, the way the food is served (buffet style, seated service, or boxed lunches), and finally, the caterer's level of expertise. The more flexible you are about these variables, the more wiggle room your caterer has to create the best menu for your budget.

The Catering Staff

Know beforehand whether the catering service will provide their own wait-staff and how many. A rule of thumb is one server for every 10 guests. You also want to make sure the dress code of the wait-staff is in accordance with the dress attire of the guests and the theme of the event.

The Decorations

Food is definitely the star of the party, but it's only one part of the equation. Many catering services today provide full event planning. As catering services have moved toward the full-service, event-planning model, the focus has shifted. It's not that food is no longer a focal point, but rather that it is part of a broader vision. Check with your caterer to see if they provide full event planning. If so, they will often supply you with a brochure that details their services.

If you are planning a themed event, this is a great service to make your event special and memorable. From candles to flower, lighting to linens, and dinnerware to music, catering services can make every detail complement the food to create a unified theme. The possibilities are endless but the decorations could be everything. You could have great tasting food, but if it is presented with flair, then it will become the greatest food your guests have ever tasted.

So whether you are planning a baby shower for 25 close friends or a corporate event for 500 guests, the goal is the same: deeply satisfying the guests. Let a catering service accomplish this grand task but leave you with the compliment of being a great host.


Dinner Party Etiquette............for the 21st Century!

by Robert Jackson

Dinner party etiquette, and indeed the subject of etiquette in general is wrapped up and disguised in layer upon layer of old school tradition!

Here at Gourmet Food Revolution, I intend to dispel some of the mystique of dinner party etiquette. Here you will find easy, commonsense advice and tips to help you through any modern day formal or semi-formal dinner occasion.

Whether you happen to be hosting a party or attending as a guest, this information is for you...............this is dinner party etiquette for the new millennium!

Dinner Party Etiquette - the Basics

Even in today's fast and ever changing lifestyle, there is one very simple skill which if we don't already possess, can easily be learned that is guaranteed to get you through even the most trying social occasion - good manners! Yes, something as simple as politeness and good manners will make up ten fold for any lack of etiquette know-how.

And if you are not sure if your manners are good enough, pick a role model and compare your behaviour with them. This could be someone well known on screen or television, or perhaps a friend, colleague or business associate. Pay attention to how they behave around other people. Learn from them!

Learn to be confident in yourself. Unease and nervousness in social occasions will undoubtedly make you feel uncomfortable and thus more prone to unnatural behaviour. A good tip before any important occasion is to go somewhere quiet on your own and sit or preferably, lay down. Close you eyes - and relax by taking long, slow, deep breaths. Then in your imagination, see yourself at that social event looking calm and confident. Imagine yourself interacting comfortably with other guests - you are a total success! Feel the experience - really let it sink in. This type of mental programming will assist you tremendously.

As host or dinner guest, never allow yourself to be persuaded into believing that the more you spend, the greater the impression you will make! That may be true in certain (frivolous!) circles of society, but it is generally not so, and it is certainly quite unnecessary. Spend only that which you can comfortably afford.

If you would like more detailed guidance on dinner table etiquette, CLICK HERE

Dinner Party Etiquette - Myths and Unnecessary Trivia

What rules? There are no rules!!

We hear a great deal about rules of etiquette, as though they were written in stone somewhere, or part of the Constitution! What is acceptable to one person or one society may be totally unacceptable to another. If you must live by rules, then develop your own list of rules! Rules of etiquette steeped in history and tradition have very little real relevance in today's society.

Some folk firmly believe that unless you come from a background of substantial wealth and a particular upbringing, then you are automatically excluded from certain social choices. This is completely, and utterly, ridiculous! In my profession, I have performed the role of Butler at numerous very grand and formal social occasions for the wealthy and upper classes. And I do not exaggerate when I say that on occasions, the behaviour of some of those attending was truly appalling. Social background, education and wealth are no guarantees of good manners and proper behaviour!

Often a dinner host or hostess believes that the more complex the menu, the more extravagant the occasion, the more elaborate the table setting ......the more he or she will impress the guests! That is far from the reality! A simple yet stylish, well executed dinner party delivered with thought, care and attention, will achieve a far greater result........for a lot less stress!

Dress code? Just as there are no rules in modern day entertaining, there is also.....no dress code! However, if it's a formal affair and the host has clearly indicated a dress style (black tie, lounge suits, smart casual etc) then clearly, the dinner guest should respect that. As a host however, do consider carefully whether such a stipulation is really necessary. The trend these days is very much towards casual dining and generally speaking, most dinner guests will be more relaxed in that situation.

Dinner Party Etiquette - Social Behaviour

If you are hosting a dinner party, use yourself as an example of what you consider to be acceptable social behaviour. Most dinner guests will take their lead from you - and if they don't, they probably shouldn't be there and are unlikely to be invited again!

The art of conversation! The successful dinner party host should always encourage lively and varied conversation with honest opinions being expressed and shared. However, proper dinner party etiquette should encourage avoiding sensitive issues or subjects that some guests may find uncomfortable. As a considerate dinner host, if such a conversation is under way, discreetly interject and carefully change the subject. Or if that fails, interrupt by introducing the next course!

For both the dinner host and guest, excessive behaviour of any sort is to be avoided. That should include excessive drinking, excessive talking (being overbearing!), excessive joke telling (particularly bad ones!!) and even excessive eating! A healthy appetite is to be enjoyed, over indulgence however, is not an endearing feature!

To smoke, or not to smoke? Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the host or hostess to dictate on this. As smoking becomes less and less acceptable publicly, it is quite unacceptable to do so at a dinner table unless expressly invited to do so. It can be a sensitive issue. Personally, I would advise that the host makes another room available (perhaps where after dinner coffee will be served) for any guest wishing to smoke. Again, there are no strict rules on this subject - as dinner host, you must make this choice for your guests.

If you would like more detailed guidance on table setting etiquette, CLICK HERE

Dinner Party Etiquette - Place and Table Setting

The days of making an impression by setting out enormous and extravagant place settings with numerous pieces of (sometimes confusing!) cutlery and glassware for an excessively long menu are thankfully, largely over. Keep the setting simple by putting in place only that which is required up to and including the main course. Cutlery for any following courses can acceptably be provided as the dinner progresses and concludes.

Excessively large, elaborate table decorations and expensive, hall marked tableware are quite unnecessary (unless ofcourse they are family heirlooms!). A simple yet thoughtfully styled table using the best that you own and can afford can be very affective. Don't be led into the trap of believing that your table must look like something off the front of a glossy home design magazine! I said earlier that there are no rules. Well infact there is one golden rule...........keep it simple!

If you are hosting a large dinner party, then a table plan and place cards are essential. For a smaller party however, avoid such unnecessary protocol. Simply, casually direct dinner guests to sit where you would prefer them to.

This is dinner party etiquette for the 21st century. All of the above is no more than plain, common sense! And it is also about behaving responsibly and not offensively!

As a final word, please remember that the true art of entertaining has one prime goal...........that of pleasure! It should be enjoyed by host and guest alike. So at all costs, avoid being overly concerned about what is "right, and what is "wrong". Do what you feel is right ........and if you do happen to make the odd gaff - as long as you carry it off with grace, honesty and humility, you will happily survive the day! After all, it is only a dinner party!

Relax..............and enjoy!

About the Author

Robert Jackson has worked all of his life in the hospitality business. Here at Gourmet Food Recolution he shares his views, ideas, tips and reccomendations for entertaing at home.....with style and ease!




Burn in Three Dimensions: The New Attraction of Candles 

by Dew Point Productions

If you aren't already keenly aware of the fact that burning candles can shape mood, you'll love reading what we have to say here. And, if you are already aware of the most common first two dimensions - get ready for a surprise because there's a new candle on the market that ads a third and important mood enhancer.

Perhaps the first dimension that people are aware of when they choose a candle to burn is the color of the candle. Even an unlit candle can add or detract from mood with its color. For that perfect soft romantic mood stick with simple and elegant. Try the colors of silver, gold, red, pink, and/or white. Want to jazz up your evening, choose bright colors reds, yellows, and purples will help you do this. Cool colors like blues and greens can be perfect on a hot summer evening. Place a floating blue candle in a bowl of round ice and watch the response you get.

Once a candle is lit scent is the second dimension that most of us are aware of when burning a candle. For a casual dinner party look for candles that smell like food! Go for apple pie, pumpkin, cherries, cinnamon, and strawberries. These scents are fun and keeps people's mouths watering. For a romantic evening, fragrances should be clean and simple such as roses, vanilla, and other non-heavy scents. To soothe the soul after a long day consider chamomile, vanilla, or blueberry they are all wonderful placed along the edge of the bath during a hot soak.

Most people, even if they have never given concentrated effort to mood setting with candles are at least aware that colors and scents are two important dimension of candle burning. Now think of a third dimension of candle burning to add ambiance, what else could there possibly be? What about sound, yep you hear that right sound. Until recently, this wasn't much of an issue unless you wanted one of those hokey singing plastic candles, there was nothing on the market worth considering. Recently though, the Old Virginia Candle Company has brought the sound of a crackling fire to a line of candles called WoodWick Candles adding a third dimension to the ambiance of candle burning. These delightful candles have an organic wood wick. Contained in shapely jars with rich aromas in both vibrant and soothing colors these candles offer three full dimensions to mood setting.

About the Author

For more information on candles visit http://www.timelesscandles.com For web site promtion visit http://www.dewpointproductions.com




After Dinner Speech Do's and Don'ts

by Jim Peterson

An after dinner speech is performing and serious public speaking at the same time. Your tone has to be lighthearted, your speech topic has to be relevant to the event and your presentation has to be funny. Here are the do's and don'ts.

The After Dinner Speech Do's:

Recognize the atmosphere of the event or celebration. Therefore determine the purpose and the ambiance of the event or occasion. The after dinner speech is frequently given after the attendants have eaten. Although it's possible to speak before and during dinner. So, keep in mind that the guests have enjoyed good food and drinks, and they are relaxed.

Realize to whom you are talking. Try to flow your after dinner speech in the mind set and group unity. Try to be on a similar wavelength.

Offer an original point of view that will inspire the audience. Make a choice: do you want to inform the audience about important subjects, results, or thoughts? Or to persuade them to change their values, beliefs or behavior? Or do you want to set a social agenda by choosing special or noteworthy topics for an after dinner?

Apply a good sense of humor that is relevant to your message, the audience, the atmosphere and the purpose of the occasion in your after dinner speech. If you want to discuss a serious or provoking topic, then always choose for a relaxed and humorous way.

Practice, time the length, rewrite and polish your after dinner speech.

Organize your after dinner speech topics in a clear structure. Use transition sentences.

The After Dinner Speech Don'ts:

Avoid religious humor, racist or ethnic, sexist, and even political humor that could offend or provoke individuals or groups. It can destroy your credibility.

Don't ask for radical or dramatic changes.

Don't sound angry or negative.

Ask the hosts how long your talk may last. If they want you to speak for example 3 minutes, then don't talk any longer. Don't be a party killer with a never ending after dinner speech.

About the Author

Jim Peterson has over 10 year's experience on speech writing. He offers 1,250+ free speech topic ideas and how-to guides for any kind of public speaking and speech writing assignments at http://www.speech-topics-help.com.
Copyright 2006 Jim A. Peterson




Master the Art of Stress Free Entertaining 

by Tips to Organize Life

When I think back on my childhood, I don't have any memories of my parents hosting a party other than the occasional holiday. I don't even remember them having any friends over for dinner. In my adult life, I have come to learn that the idea of playing hostess is very stressful for my mother. I have also learned that she is not alone in feeling this way.

When I got married and set up my own home, I found that I enjoyed entertaining friends and family, but with no motherly advice to work with, I didn't have a clue whether or not I was "doing it right." What I figured out through trial and error is that there really is no right or wrong way to entertain, but there are a few things I have learned that can turn entertaining from a stress-inducing nightmare into an enjoyable event.

The single most important thing I have learned is that the comfort of your guests is key. At a party, the guests take their cues from the host or hostess. If the host is frantic and obviously stressed, you can bet that their guests will not feel comfortable. Therefore, you must remain calm, cool and collected in order to make your guests feel at ease. How can you do that and still attend to all of the necessary details? The answer is prior planning. Here is how you can plan the perfect party every time.

The first step is to plan the type of party you would like to have: Do you want a cocktail party or a dinner party? Do you want the meal to be formal or casual? Will the food be served at the table or will you offer a buffet? The answers to these types of questions will help you determine the number of people to invite, as well as who those people should be. For example, you wouldn't want to invite acquaintances that do not get along well if the party will be more intimate and there will not be many other people there for them to interact with. The answers to these questions will also help you decide upon the menu later. Start a party journal and write the answers to these questions in it.

The next step is to plan the guest list. Invitations should be mailed approximately three weeks prior to the date of the party. Write down the names of all invitees in your party journal, leaving a space for their RSVP. This way you will know at a glance how many guests you are expecting. Choose your RSVP deadline carefully, making sure to allow enough time to properly plan the menu. Keep in mind that many people overlook RSVP deadlines. If your deadline passes and there are people you have not heard from, consider your situation in deciding what to do. If your party is a more casual open-house type event, simply plan for everyone to attend to make sure you have enough for all who show up. However, if your party is a more formal affair and you need to know how many places to set at the table, you may want to consider following up with a telephone call. If you choose to call, keep the conversation casual and upbeat. Do not offend your guests by pointing out that they missed the deadline to respond. Simply try to ascertain the answer to your question through casual conversation.

Once you know how many guests you are expecting, the next thing you want to do is plan the menu. When planning the menu, try to choose as many dishes that can be prepared ahead of time as possible. Choose dishes that fit well with the theme of your party. If you are having a cocktail party you will only need appetizers and you will want to choose foods that do not require a plate or utensils to eat. This will allow your guests the ability to mingle easily without trying to juggle a plate in one hand and a drink in the other. If you are offering a sit down meal you may opt for more elegant dishes. Keep in mind that you can still achieve elegance without spending days in the kitchen. Visit http://www.tips-to-organize-life.com/easy-meal-idea.html for ideas to help you plan your menu. Many of these dishes can be prepared in advance and some are actually better that way. Write down your menu selections in your party journal and make note of any preparation instructions that will help you determine when to get started on each dish. Now that you have your menu established you can start planning the set up for the party. Will you need to set the table and, if so, for how many? Which tablecloth, napkins, dishes and centerpiece would you like to use? Do you need to purchase disposable cocktail plates and napkins? Write all of this information in your journal so that all of the thinking is done ahead of time.

The final step is the party calendar. Start one week prior to the event and write down any tasks that can be accomplished each day leading up to the day of the event. The idea is to leave as little as possible for the day of the party, allowing yourself time to relax, get dressed and get excited for your guests to arrive without running around trying to get everything done at the last minute. The calendar should include things such as shopping for paper goods and decorations, grocery shopping, house cleaning, setting the table, and menu preparations. If you do a little bit each day you will be ready for your party before you know it.

All of this planning and list making may seem like a lot of work, but once you realize how much fun it can be to actually attend your own parties, rather than slaving away in the kitchen while all of your guests are enjoying themselves you will never throw a party any other way. Start planning your next party today.

About the Author

Tips to Organize Life is the website that provides shortcuts, tips and tricks to help you get things done faster and better.




Party Planning Made Simple! 

by Michael Kyle

Looking to throw the party of the year? Worried about pulling it off? No need to be, it can be really simple when a few simple rules are applied to the planning process. The key to a successful event comes from following the 5W Guideline!

1. WHY?

Why are you throwing a party? Is it for a birthday or bachelor/ bachelorette party, maybe a baby shower, holiday and office party or just an excuse to get together, whatever the cause for a celebration, have a clear vision of your party intention and convey this to your guests. Of course the best way of communicating your intentions is through the use of invitations. Why not use them? They can be creative, funny and unique and save you the effort of having to personally communicate with all your potential party-goers. Give your guests a momento and send out some fantastic invites!

2. WHAT?

What is the objective of your party? What kind of party are you going to throw? This is a very important question in that all your decisions from here will be affected by what party you are having. If you are having a themed party, consider that you may need decorations and costumes. This doesn't have to be expensive. A great Martini party can be had simply by having your guests dress semi formal. Because every party is a themed party of some sort, find the right theme for you and your guests. Here are a few great theme party ideas:

Do you love food? A great recipe/cooking party may be the way for you.

Do you enjoy golf? Maybe a Sunday afternoon masters BBQ.

What about wine? Wine tasting parties are an excellent way to try new and exciting wines.

Choose your theme, it can be revolving or seasonal and make sure your guests will be receptive, (not everyone likes to get in costume) and make sure your goals are attainable.

3. WHO?

Who will be coming to your party? It is vitally important to know who you are catering to. Is it for close friends? Complete strangers? Co workers or business peers? In planning any social event, you need to consider the guests, do they know each other? Is it an Ice breaker? Do you need to provide name tags? How many people are you expecting? What are their likes and dislikes? Are they heavy drinkers or heavy eaters? Do they have a demographic? Find out what you all commonly share as interests and deliver those in spades.

Understanding your guests will help to clarify your goals for your event and also help determine the kind of party that is appropriate. All great parties cater greatly to their guests.


Location, location, location! There are many factors to consider when choosing a location for any party:

1. Crammed rooms 2. Inadequate lavatory facilities 3. Inability to sit or stand comfortably 4. Limited access to food and or beverages

These will certainly be a detriment to your guests overall satisfaction. Here are some very useful considerations to make when choosing a venue:

Does it have the space I need? Will my guests be able to freely mingle? Is there adequate lavatory facilities? Is there an area to sit? Is it easily accessible? Is there transit or cabs available near by?

Can your guests leave their vehicles should they be consuming alcohol? Consider using a drive home service in your area to keep people from drinking and driving. They usually charge a stipend to drive your guest and their cars home. We highly recommend doing this!

If you are planning on renting a hall or banquet room:

Does it have food and beverage facilities? If yes, will they provide the room gratis if you use their food and beverage services? Are there adequate washroom facilities and are they wheel chair accessible? Is there an outdoor/patio/smoking area? At what time will you have access to the facility and at what time are you to leave? Do they provide any post function cleaning? Is there adequate electrical for dé’cor, a DJ or a Band? Do they have in House Audio visual? (We don't recommend this as it is usually quite expensive and you can get reliable AV from outside sources) What is its capacity? Is there any security? Will you need security?

5. WHEN?

Choosing the right time, date or season to have your party will impact greatly on why you are hosting one, where you are having one, what your party is for and who you will be inviting. You will need to consider some important timelines for planning your party:

Will it fall on a holiday? Will your guests be available or with family? What is a good time for a dinner party to start? Is 6 PM too early? Is 9 PM too late? Will my guests be too hungry or worse yet, not hungry at all? Will my start time accommodate for travel, the work week or game time? Is my theme out of season? Is it fashionable? Or Worst case scenario, TOO fashionable? Will your party wake the neighbors? (If yes then they need to be invited too!)

Great parties should be a requirement in life, but it shouldn't become a nightmare for the volunteer host! Just follow my 5W's and a successful party will simply fall into place!

About the Author

Michael Kyle has been a hospitality expert for 18 years leading to the successful launch of www.thesexykitchen.com Discover how to turn your passion into a successful website. www.succeed-from-your-passion.com




Birthday Invitations: Some Helpful Tips for Celebrants 

by Trevor Mulholland

Birthday invitations are an important part of the whole celebration. They set the stage for the event and can influence the outcome of the party. They can get even the most reluctant invitee to change his mind at the last moment and attend the event. The important thing is to make these invites interesting to get the recipient's full attention.

Birthday invitations can be personally made using art kits, printed from free samples provided by the Internet, bought as packaged sets or sent through emails as e-cards. Whatever option a celebrant or a party planner chooses, knowing the basic parameters for these invites is very important.

Invitations for birthday parties should give an idea what kind of party the guests will be attending. Whether it is a drinking party, a sit-down dinner, a costume event, a kiddie celebration or an activity or adventure celebration, the invitation should be able to tell the invitee what is expected of him or her. The theme of the party should be reflected in the invitation's design and message. If there are instructions to guests like, what to wear, or they need to bring something to the party, the invitation is also the place to let them know about it.

Technological developments, particularly computers, have made invitations really cheap, easy to make and fast to send. For free invites, the best option is e-cards sent through emails. Another money-saving type is free printable invitations offered by various Web sites that can be printed and reproduced using a copier machine. If they would be made personally, ideas and design suggestions are available in the Internet by the thousands. Kits for making them are also available at very low prices. For really busy people, buying packaged, ready-made invites is a reasonable option. Savings can be earned from this last option by buying a larger number.

Invitations should always include the venue, date and time of the party. The theme of the event should also be reflected in the invitations. Before choosing them, take note of the kind of celebration that will be held; that is, whether it is a formal or an informal party. It might also be helpful to include the celebrant's telephone number or email address on the birthday invitations so that guests can confirm their attendance.

The invitation will usually be styled accoding to the celebrants wishes. This could mean a very vibrant happy happy card, or somewhat subdued.

About the Author

Birthday-invite.com provides you with information on where to find stunning birthday invitations, or how to make them yourself! http://www.birthday-invite.com




What's Your Party Style? 

by George Meszaros

Do you know your party style? It is important to answer this question before you begin planning your next party. If you are comfortable cooking gourmet dinners for your guests, invite your guests for an haute cuisine extravaganza. If you can only cook chips and salsa, you can still have a great party.

You have to know what style makes you feel comfortable. After all, you want to be able to relax and have fun. You may be more comfortable with a pizza or BBQ party.

Before you do anything else in terms of party planning. Figure out what makes you comfortable, but keep the needs of your guests in mind. Just because you enjoy a certain kind of theme, your guest may prefer something else. Even though you may prefer a formal dinner party your guests may prefer something casual like a pool party. If you enjoy theme parties, the possibilities are endless.

When planning a formal dinner party you should remember a few important factors. Most importantly, it is your dinner party so you can do whatever you wish. You are the one throwing the party, the one planning the party, and the one paying for it. You can put in as much or as little effort as you deem appropriate.

The other factor you should keep in mind is what your guests want. Your guest may not enjoy a formal dinner party as much as you. Your guests may not enjoy getting dressed in a suit and tie for a party. Know who your guests are, what their likes and dislikes are.

There is no correct or incorrect party style. Whatever party style you choose, be sure you are being yourself. Don't try to create a party where you feel uncomfortable. After all you are trying to have fun and enjoy yourself. Your task is to figure out what suits you best.

Unless you are a full-time party planner you don't have a lot of time to plan your party. Make sure you don't take on a larger project than you can handle. You don't want to get overwhelmed by party planning. Your friends and family will enjoy your company no matter what kind of a style you have for your next party.

About the Author

Chocolate Party Favors Chocolate party favors for birthday, graduation, birth announcement, baby shower, weddings and more.




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This page was last updated on: Monday, December 11, 2006