Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reception Tip

Limit the number of different items that are served at your reception.

In an earlier post, I gave a brief response to the question of how much food to serve at a reception. Once you have determined how many “pieces” you need to have at your reception, you can start deciding what to serve at your reception. Most hotels and caterers have an extensive selection of reception items available to choose from and it is easy to go overboard and serve a little bit of everything. Resist that temptation!

One of the interesting things about receptions is that when you give your attendees a lot of choices of what to eat, they tend to choose everything. If you have ten different items to choose from, people will walk away from the food table with at least one of each item served on their plate. After they have nibbled on those items, they will go back for more of the items they particularly liked. Sometimes, they even do this without having finished what they took the first time! As the organizer, that can be very frustrating to see. To minimize this, we recommend that our clients limit the number of different items served at their receptions, usually to no more than four or five. That allows for a nice variety of items to be served, while reducing the “take one of everything” mentality to manageable levels.

For a small group, we’ll usually go with one meat item, one vegetarian item, and one cheese and crackers “item”. As the group increases in size, we’ll expand our choices from there to include one or two more items. No matter how large the group gets, though, we typically do not have more than five different items available. We would rather have more pieces of fewer items (so everyone can get some) than fewer pieces of many items (that the early birds are going to pick clean before everyone can get some). And, of course, what we choose to serve a particular group depends heavily on the preferences of that group. After all, you want the group to enjoy the food you’ve chosen for them, so don’t serve a meat item to an all-vegetarian group – no matter how much you may like meat dishes!

- Karl Baur, CMP