2008-07-02 / Society

Catering is an option for your next event

Throwing a bash to share with friends and family is something many people enjoy doing.

Part of enjoying the celebration for hosts and hostesses is being able to mingle and share the festivities with guests. But this isn't always possible when they're responsible for preparing and serving the food among a bevy of other responsibilities. That's where hiring a caterer or using a banquet facility can make the party more enjoyable for all involved.

Various Types of

Caterers

Caterers vary by whether they're on-site or off-site. Some banquet facilities use a specific caterer for all of their events. Other party rooms allow you to choose the caterer.

Find Out What They

Provide

Some caterers simply provide the food, others food and drinks, while still others the entire kit and kaboodle: Food, beverages, linens, serviceware, etc. When comparing rates of catering services, make sure you're comparing apples to apples. One price may be higher because you're getting a one-stopshopping package from the caterer.

Be Prepared For

Discussion

When you sit down with prospective caterers, it helps to have certain information on hand. These items include:

• number of guests

• venue if you're using an off-site caterer and not going with a particular banquet facility

• type of event (social, business)

• who is being honored

• food preferences and restrictions

• budget

• type of service (buffet, sit-down, butler-passed hors d'oeuvres)

• theme or mood you are trying to create

Book Well in Advance

It's suffice to say that many caterers are busy for peak seasons and holidays, so don't wait until the last minute to book with one for your party. Generally weddings and large affairs should be booked nine to 12 months before the event. Smaller functions can be booked a few months before.

Sign a Contract

Make sure that the caterer or banquet facility you choose spells out all agreements in a contract that you both sign. Inquire about contingency plans should there be poor weather or a reason to cancel the party.

Find out if it is possible for a taste-testing to try out the food in advance.

In terms of money, discuss payment schedules and how gratuities are handled. Also find out how you will be billed if the party runs over the alloted amount of time.

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