5 Tips to Hiring a Holiday Party Caterer

With the holiday season now in full swing, parties seem to be happening every weekend. If you’re planning to have a party yourself—or know of a close family member or friend you can offer tips to—follow the advice of event planner Deborah Williamson for a stress-free soiree that will keep all your guests talking long after the party end (in a good way!)

1. Hire a professional
We know, you wanted to do all the cooking and organizing yourself to show off to your guests how talented and organized you are. You picture an evening making comments like “Oh, that? I just whipped that together” or “let me refill that drink for you.” What you don’t picture is running out of food or ice, and being so busy putting out “fires” you have no time to relax and socialize with your guests.

2. Where to look
If you go out often to events, ask who caters the food and get a business card. If you have a favorite restaurant, call in and ask if the sous chefs do private home events. And of course, you’re welcome to ask friends and family for their recommendations, provided you trust their taste!

3. What to expect
An experienced chef who has done home events before knows to bring their own equipment. So don’t worry about going out to purchase special items. And don’t get talked into a drop-off meal deal. This is where they cook the food the night before, drop it off the morning of, and all you have to do is heat everything up. Sounds easy but it rarely tastes good. You want food cooked and served at your home.

4. Talk menu beforehand
This isn’t a wedding, but you do want to have a basic menu outlined for the night. So ask each caterer or chef to come up with a proposal for you of appetizers, entrees, desserts, wine, etc. along with full prices and any extras—like a guaranteed 30 percent gratuity or an extra for fee for special dietary requests by one of your guests.

5. Discuss final details
Lock down your final head count, a set time for your caterer/chef to show up and begin serving drinks and appetizers, when they will be paid, and so on. With everything planned out in advance, there’s less of a chance of things to go wrong. And, don’t be surprised if they do. Parties always throw in a surprise or two, some good, some bad. Be sure to buy and store extra ice, and this will be one less worry on your plate!