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The following inspiration was shared by guest contributor Liz Trementozzi. Thanks, Liz!
Halloween parties are always fun events to attend. With everyone dressed up in various costumes and makeup, it can be a wild ride even for the more timid among us.
But beyond all the trick-or-treating, costumes, and decorations lies an important aspect of your event: the food and who will provide it.
Choosing to hire a caterer can be an intimidating process for those who are not familiar with the process. It is always best to do as much research as possible before signing any contracts. In fact, the more caterers you interview, the more informed you naturally will become.
There are two main advantages to hiring a caterer:
If you know you have your hands full, and are confident you do not have the time to prepare all the food yourself, then a catering company can help.
Your caterer will give you various options for what kind of foods you want to be served. All you have to do is select what you want and they take care of the rest. This greatly reduces anxiety and stress as the pressure is off of you and placed instead on the company you are hiring.
Quality of Food
Assuming the caterer has a positive reputation, you can rest assured at the quality of the food which will be delivered. For example, many of their featured foods they have made many times before. These are professionals who know how to get a job done.
However, there is one main disadvantage: cost.
For those who rarely entertain and rejoice at the idea of handing the responsibility to a company, this may not be a road block, but for those who often do their own entertaining, it can be hard to give the job to someone else.
It is easy to save money by providing the food yourself – if you have the right know how and tools. For example, some people who entertain frequently will buy many of their foods such as meat, in bulk. They then cut the meat into smaller portions and freeze. When party time comes, they pull out only what they need.
They also have specific equipment which makes entertaining easier by investing in heavy duty appliances such as home food slicers, or meat grinders. A food slicer can be used to slice slabs of meat (and other foods) into deli thin slices perfect for sub sandwiches or for deli roll ups. A kitchen meat grinder can be used to grind large amounts of solid meat chunks for making meatloaf, meatballs or fresh hamburgers.
By purchasing in bulk and with a decent amount of pre-planning, those who fit this level of party enthusiast will undoubtedly save themselves the cost of hiring another company to do what they can very well do themselves.
Therefore, it really depends on where you feel comfortable, and what your priorities are.
Going the Catering Route
If you do choose to work with a caterer, here are some questions you can ask yourself which will help in the planning process.
1. What style of food presentation do you want to have?
Do you want to prepare an entire event with appetizers, a main dish and then dessert? Or do you prefer to offer a number of various smaller entrees and finger food? Perhaps your setting would be better with a nice variety of desserts.
2. What is the size of your party?
For smaller crowds, a full meal may be a nice choice if you plan on hosting the event yourself. But for larger crowds where guests will be mingling around showing off their costumes, a more relaxed buffet style meal might be appropriate.
A caterer may have different methods for charging for their services. They may charge per plate, or per food item – make sure to ask.
3. Do they provide their own servers? And is this required?
Some caterers will be happy to simply prepare and deliver the food, rather than hassling with finding servers. On the other hand, if the party is a large formal event, the option to hire some servers may be the more logical decision.
4. Does the caterer offer special food items specific for your event, in this case Halloween?
If they do not, they may be excited at the opportunity to try something new and creative. This also gives them the ability to add this “new” menu item to their list of experiences.
If they do agree to create a new menu item, make sure to arrange a tasting so you can taste a sampling prior to the party – at least a few weeks so if any alterations are to be made, they have the time to do so.
If they do not make special customizations, request that you have permission to provide some of your own theme specific foods such as cookies, cupcakes, etc…
5. Do they provide chairs?
This is important because it may not cost much to have the caterer bring an extra 10 or 20 folding chairs for your guests. It is always a good idea to have ample seating at your party.
If concerned you will have too many empty chairs, then simply store some of the chairs in a spare room, and pull them out when needed.
6. Who does cleanup?
In other words, will the caterer be in charge of taking out the trash, cleaning up dirty plates, vacuuming etc, or are you expected to do this yourself? There may be extra charges for this too, so make sure to ask.
By taking into account these various considerations, you will be closer to making a decision if hiring a caterer for your Halloween party is appropriate – and if so – determining how involved the caterer will be.
Never be afraid to discuss your questions, concerns or thoughts with your caterer. If they are unwilling to work together, take the time to take a step back and shop around. It could be the difference between a stressful event and a stress-free event!
This article was contributed by simpleitaliancooking.com, a website devoted to Italian food recipes and kitchenware reviews.