During the pandemic, we’ve all gotten a lot more used to doing things at home. And many of us have been spending our time at home renovating and updating our homes. Now that many of us are back to entertaining, some may still prefer the comfort and familiarity of home. And some may want to show off their newly renovated/redecorated homes! Sure, you can invite people to a restaurant or to a beautiful event space to celebrate a special event, but sometimes, having it in your home is the way to go. And while an in-home party can be warm and personal, it can also be overwhelming to plan and execute.
Stay calm, take a deep breath, and reach for the phone to call a full-service catering company like Messina’s Catering & Events. Hiring a New Orleans catering company to cater your party is the best way to get the best of both worlds — to have your party at home, and have someone else do the setup, cooking and service. This way, your guests feel the warmth and comfort of your home, and you can avoid missing the whole party by spending it in the kitchen. In-home catering is the perfect solution to carefree event planning.
Tip #1: Size doesn’t matter
Most people think of catered events and envision 500 people in a large ballroom. But you can hire a full-service catering company for a small gathering as well! From an intimate sit-down dinner in your dining room to a cocktail party with passed hors d’oeuvres in the backyard, a full-service caterer can do it all inside your home.
Tip #2: Choose your menu, then relax
The beauty of using a caterer for your in-home party is that your work is only on the front-end. You choose the top caterers near you, choose the catering menu, then leave them to do the heavy lifting when it comes to shopping, prepping, cooking, serving and cleanup. This leaves you with more time to enjoy and engage with friends and family at the party. Also, don’t forget what might be the best reason of all—the clean-up. The worst-part of party hosting is when the last guest leaves and you are left with a kitchen full of dirty dishes. Everything a caterer arrives with they leave with, so you can simply straighten up and then put your feet up and bask in the glow of a great time that was had by all (including you).
Tip #3: Go ahead, be daring
Working with an experienced, professional caterer means you can up your game on your menu and bar service. Try something you might never attempt on your own. Whether your cooking skills encompass the ability to boil water or the delicate touch it takes to make a soufflé, it’s daunting to make something complicated for something as important as a party. But your caterer has your back! You choose the dishes you want for your theme and your budget, not what you feel comfortable making, and let your caterer execute it to perfection! A savory beef wellington wrapped in a light puff pastry….check! Salmon cooked to a perfect medium-rare….done! Light and airy macarons…bring it on! A whole roasted duck…not a problem!
Tip #4: Don’t worry about the size of your kitchen
Chances are, your kitchen will merely serve as the assembling and serving area. Most professional caterers have their own large commissary kitchens where most of the prepping and pre-cooking takes place. They then use refrigerated trucks to transport the food to your home for finishing and serving. And even if your kitchen isn’t large enough for the final finishing, most professional caterers have portable cooking equipment and even mobile kitchens.
Tip #5: Don’t run out and buy extra dinnerware and display ware
Most professional caterers also have their own smallware, which consists of glassware, flatware, dinnerware, bar supplies, and utensils. Caterers that do lots of off-premise catering also have beautiful display ware such as platters and serving bowls.
Want to use your own? That’s fine too! Maybe you’ve been dying to use your wedding china for a special dinner party. Or maybe your Spode Christmas plates have been hiding in the attic for too long.
Tip #6: Where to you put everyone
For intimate sit-down dinners, you can use your own dining room table to give your event a personal feel. Larger guest lists may require renting dining tables, cocktail tables, chairs, and linens. If this is the case, your caterer can help make recommendations as to what you will need, and can recommend (or coordinate the use of) a reputable rental company.
Tip #7: Consider what level of service do you desire
Talk to your caterer about the level of service you’d like, and how many servers it will require. Find out what the standard waitstaff attire is, and whether you can customize. For example, if it’s an engagement party, the wait staff could wear shirts sporting the happy couple’s names.
As long as what you suggest is in good taste and doesn’t interfere with the job they have to do, most caterers should be able to accommodate your requests. Also, be sure to discuss the bar. Determine if a bartender will be part of the service staff, or if the bar will be self-serve.
Tip #8: Establish expectations in advance
Since this event is in your home, you’ll want to establish expectations as to what you as the host will do and provide vs what the caterer needs to do and provide. For example, will the caterer be the one to pick up rentals and take them back after the party, or will you as the host do that? Will the dishware that belongs to you be washed? Will the staff clean the area as the party progresses? Will staff refill wine and coffee? Will leftovers be packed and left in your fridge? Will hors oeuvres be passed or served at stations? These are all questions to ask your caterer and be clear on.
Tip #9: The most important ingredient? A quality caterer
Whether you are having your event at a venue, or in your home, finding the right caterer can really make or break your event. Check out Messina’s article titled 7 Tips for Choosing the Best Caterers to learn what to ask and what to look for. The best part about hosting the event in your home is that you get to keep the leftovers!