When most of us think of a grand catered event, we think of the endless New Orleans venue possibilities in the French Quarter, the Garden District, the Warehouse District, the Bywater, and beyond. But sometimes, the perfect place to host your next catered event is right under your nose – at home.
Homes don’t have to be palatial to make good venue options. It just needs to be warm and inviting. Working with an experienced New Orleans caterer can help ensure that even the most elaborate home soirees are well-orchestrated, so your next in-home event comes off without a hitch.
Hosting a catered event at home not only allows you to impress your guests but also gives you a rare chance to be a participant in all the fun. There are often fewer restrictions in hosting an event at home versus in a public place, and hosting at home gives your guests a better look into your personality and style.
Step 1. Prepare the Guest List
The one mistake many people make when throwing a party at home is not being specific about the number of guests coming. While this might sound like common sense, it’s far too easy to say “yes” to those who want to bring someone last minute or those who might want to change other plans to attend after replying “no” to your RSVP.
Knowing how many people you plan to invite helps you tailor the ideal catering menu and event flow. It also enables you to prepare for seating arrangements, table settings, and whether the service will be reception-style, buffet-style, or plated. This is also the perfect time to assess whether there are any food allergies or dietary restrictions you need to be aware of. You can specifically ask when sending out the invitations. A thoroughly prepared and well-thought-out guest list eliminates a lot of room for error.
Step 2. Invite Your Caterer to Assess Your Kitchen
Your kitchen might be just fine for cooking meals for your family and friends and smaller dinner parties, but if the gathering is larger than you usually host, you’ll need to walk through your kitchen with your caterer to determine what they can serve from that space.
A survey of the kitchen tells our chefs exactly what tools they need to bring with them and whether or not they need an additional cooktop, portable oven, plating areas, and food processors. It might also be determined that part of the catering menu can be prepared off-site and transported in warming boxes to your event.
Step 3. Determine What Type of Service You will Need
This plays into step number one. The number of servers, chefs, and bartenders you’ll need is directly related to the number of guests you expect. If you plan on serving plated dinners, there will be more hands-on deck for plating and serving. If you want a chef’s action station, you’ll need to find the right place to set that up to keep the event flowing. Likewise, if you have a grazing table versus passed hors d’oeuvres, that determines the amount of staff needed.
Step 4. Make Arrangements for the Catering Staff
Your caterer will need space to park their catering vehicles, such as a kitchen van or panel truck, and transportation for service staff. That doesn’t mean they’ll be parked near the entrance to the kitchen all night, but they will need easy accessibility when setting up and tearing down.
It’s also nice to offer your catering staff a bathroom that the guests aren’t using. Finally, if you have enough food, it’s always appreciated to let the team enjoy the fruits of their labors once their work is done. These little acts of kindness go a long way.
Step 5. Plan for Clean-Up Duty
Once your guests leave, the important work of leaving your home just as the caterer found it begins. An experienced caterer will train staff to sweep the room, remove spent dishes and glasses during the event, and thoroughly clean up the kitchen and party areas after the event. Your caterer will also need to clean up any cookware and utensils they brought and load up any warming boxes, warming trays, and other service items.
While you might think handling the clean-up yourself is a way to save money on your catering budget, it’s one of the most prudent investments you can make. After an exciting evening of entertaining, you will be just as spent as the appetizers. At Messina’s, we continually clean cooking and prep areas as a part of safe food handling, so the task of kitchen clean-up is much less daunting once the party is over.
Step 6. Plan for Budgeting and Final Payment
Of course, you budgeted for your party in advance and probably even paid in advance. But after the party ends, your caterer will assess any unexpected expenses such as more guests than expected or more alcohol consumed than expected, etc. at which time a credit card would be required for the unexpected additional costs. Maybe a few guests drank more top-shelf liquor than expected, or the prime rib station was a bigger hit than you thought it would be, so now is the time to talk with your caterer about additional costs you might not have expected and why you’re incurring them. If you’ve rented items like tables, chairs, and table linens, now is the time to assess if there are any damages you might be liable for.
Choose the Right In-Home Caterer
Whether you’re hosting a family reunion or a corporate retreat at home, trusting the pros to help you with all the meticulous details is paramount to your event’s success. An experienced New Orleans caterer like Messina’s can help you craft the perfect catering menu for your at-home event. To learn more, visit http://www.messinascatering.com.