10 party tips from local caterer you’ll love
There are some things that I thought I’d nail by middle age.
Number one, it was part of my plan to have performed a daring, sexy image overhaul by now (nope). Number two, I’m supposed to be fluent in at least one language other than English (er, nope). And thirdly, I really expected myself to be an assured, relaxed party-thrower by now, able to knock out an effortless dinner soiree and a stylish round up of friends for glamorous, chinky-glassed, giggly get togethers. One. Massive. NOPE. But this year I’m hosting my parents’ Golden Wedding Anniversary celebrations (yes, 50 years people!) so I need to master hostess-with-the-mostess pronto!
Maybe you’ve also got an anniversary or a big birthday coming up? Or maybe *squeak!* even your wedding. So I’ve grabbed Nicci Gurr at Kent-based Home Gurr’own (see what she did there?) for a quick piece of ‘events therapy’. Top chef, catering guru and wedding and events organiser, Nicci’s given me some great advice on how to throw the killer party without the nervous breakdown – and goddam I’m going to do it. Here we go:
So you want to plan for a large event of 50 guests or more…
1. Start planning early
This is crucial, especially if your event is at peak times, like summer or Christmas. Good local vendors will get booked up early and you’ll always need extra time for those unforeseen things. For a summer wedding Home Gurr’own start to get booked up at least a year in advance.
2. Prioritise and set a budget
If you’re fabulously wealthy prioritising won’t matter. For the rest of us, determining your priorities will help to narrow your choices down. Quickly work out what your priorities are, whether its local food and drink, or a knees up swinging party with live band. This will help your budget go on the things that matter to you.
3. Pick a theme to stand out and help you plan
Choosing a theme will help to frame decisions and tie together all your personal elements. Choosing a venue, caterer and décor is much easier when you have a clear vision. But don’t go mad. Pinterest will suck the life out of you with mood boards, colour charts and décor themes. Mixing and matching too many ideas is a recipe for confusion. An event is better, not when there’s nothing more to add but when there’s nothing left to take away.
4. The flow of your event is important
Your guests won’t notice when everything is flowing well. But to have them standing around while the band sets up can be frustrating. These things can be avoided by mapping out your event from start to finish. Put yourself in the shoes of your guest and walk your event through. Identify roadblocks, or times when guests are standing around.
5. Great food and service
There are many elements that make up a successful event but for many ‘food’ and its bedfellow ‘service’ are paramount. Unless you’re suitably qualified don’t be tempted to do it yourself. We’ve seen attempts to cook beef in an Aga for 100 guests. It doesn’t work.
6. Always start with the basics – fresh local ingredients
When hiring, a caterer look for someone that cooks with fresh local ingredients and preferably a menu that is cooked on the day and not pre-cooked. You’ll taste the difference. For Home Gurr’own, almost all the ingredients for your menu are either sourced from the surrounding Kent & East Sussex countryside or grown on their smallholding. This means you get a menu that is unique, fresh & local.
7. Presentation of food to give a wow factor
Secondary to the quality and taste of your food is the presentation. How does the caterer enhance their food? What garnishes or style do they have or can offer. Your ideal caterer should be able to present and style their food to fit your theme.
8. Service – looking after granny with a smile
If you’re hiring waiting staff through the caterer there are two questions you should ask. First, ask about the ratio of staff to guests. For a sit down meal Home Gurr’own usually aim for 1 staff per 10 guests. Second, ask the caterer how much they pay their staff. This might seem a strange question to ask but it indicates how much they value their staff. It also indicates the type of staff they are likely to attract. Great service is not just about efficiently serving food and drinks (although this is important), great service is also about interacting with you guests and ensuring they are taken care of. This means you can relax and enjoy your event knowing granny will get her special cup of tea and a sit down.
9. Seek help from trusted vendors
Putting together a large event of 50 guests or more isn’t easy. It’ll need weeks or even months of decisions and choices. This is a lot to take on alone. Our advice, seek help from vendors as soon as possible. A vendor who has been in the industry for any length of time will know what other vendors to trust. They will know what worked well for others and what not to try.
10. Finally, let’s talk about the weather
We live in the UK. It rains here. Don’t think it ain’t going to rain for your lovely summer event. Always plan a wet weather contingency.
Home Gurr’own, Starling Cottage Farm, Golford Road, Cranbrook, Kent, TN17 3NT, Tel: 0774 7816541, homegurrown.co.uk