8 simple ways to save on party catering

Many people like to make celebrations formal affairs with a fancy sit-down meal or lavish buffet— but these can be expensive! Before hiring a caterer, here are eight things you need to know to keep your budget on track.

8 simple ways to save on party catering

1. Choose a caterer

If you want to have a special party, getting caterers in could be the solution, and it could be less expensive than you think.

  • Shop around for different packages until you find one that suits you, as prices vary considerably —some simply bring the food, while others will also supply linen, tableware, flatware, waiters and more.

2. Draw up a budget

To avoid a larger bill than you were planning for, set a budget and stick to it. Don't be persuaded to have any extras, or a more "sophisticated" menu, unless they are within your price range.

  • Unnecessary frills could add up to 25 percent to your overall costs. Agree to what is included and get a written quote.

3. Work with your chef

  • If you are dealing with a large firm, find out if they have flexible deals — ask if altering the set menu will cost more, or whether it can save you money.
  • If your caterer is a one-woman band, see what cost-cutting suggestions she can make or whether you can save by helping her prepare some of the food.

4. Prepared food delivery

Party delivery services bring finger foods or ready-heated party meals to your door at a fraction of the price of bringing caterers in. A luxury dinner might cost between $20 and $30 a head, whereas bringing caterers to cook at your venue could cost twice as much.

5. Cut costs: help out

See if you can reduce your bill by doing some of the chores, such as picking up the drinks, yourself. Using your own linen, glasses, china and cutlery could save more if you don't mind doing the dishes and laundry.

6. Renting tables and chairs

Look in the Yellow Pages under Party Supplies and Rentals for local companies and compare their price lists. If you have access to a van, save on delivery charges by picking up and returning the equipment.

7. A coordinated approach

Save on renting damask tablecloths by draping white linen sheets over the tables so they come almost to the ground. Then lay your own smaller coloured cloths on top or make some from fabric remnants. Add good-quality paper napkins in a matching colour.

8. Save on wait staff

For formal occasions where waiters or waitresses are required, ask your friends or neighbours if their teenage sons and daughters might be willing to work for some extra cash.

In the end, you want your celebration to be remembered as a pleasant experience, not a financial nightmare. Stick to your catering budget and make cost-effective choices to make your party fun and affordable.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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