Planning your event
Planning a party can seem like a daunting task but with our simple guide, plus tips from successful caterers Lin Neillands, from Food Unlimited, and Anna Duttson, from Anna Duttson Events, we've got all bases covered.
Consider how many people you can fit in your space - if you're planning an outdoor event, remember everyone might end up inside if it rains! If you want to have large numbers in a small area, suggesting people drop in between certain hours rather than all arriving at a designated time can ease the crowds.
What type of event will it be?
For a large crowd Lin suggests making it simple with a buffet:
"A fork buffet is a lot less fuss on the day than fingerfood, where you're continually heating nibbles up and passing them around."
"A cold fork menu is easier than hot and can be prepared in advance leaving you free to talk to guests."
You don't just need space for your guests, you also need to think carefully about what your kitchen can cope with.
How big is your fridge? Clear out anything that you don't need for the day by depleting stocks beforehand or asking a neighbour to store a few items. For hygiene reasons, you do need to make sure food is refrigerated. Think about ways you can stack items, using trays, plastic tubs or clean cardboard boxes. Drinks can take up a lot of room, so chill them well in advance then transfer them to ice-filled cool bags.
Do you have big enough work surfaces? Canapés are particularly challenging if you have a small surface to work on so if necessary temporarily set up a dinner table as a work station prior to the party.
Oven and hob space. If you're providing a hot buffet or planning any last-minute cooking make sure you haven't got more items vying for space than you have provision for. Again this is where clever planning and preparing ahead is key.
Anna's top tip: Don't make the bar area too close to the front door as this always creates a bottle neck when guests arrive.
Equipment & staff
Make life easier by having big enough equipment for cooking, and sufficient serving dishes, plates and glassware. Borrow these from friends if necessary. This saves time, space and washing up.
"If you can, hire crockery, cutlery and glasses from a company that provides a 'return dirty' service. The small charge they make is well worth it when you do NOT have to wash up after the guests are gone."
"If you're planning a canapé party it's always worth considering hiring a few staff or asking your neighbours kids to help out. They can replenish plates and do the serving, allowing you time to talk and mingle with your guests."
Anna's top tip: If you've got help coming, get them in early so you have enough time to go through your requirements with them.