Great Food Ideas For Corporate Events
People can be quick to say that corporate events are the perfect excuse to get drunk with your boss and co-workers – and they wouldn’t be wrong. Plus, who’d turn up their nose at the prospect of company-sponsored booze, particularly when said boozing is in celebration of a team achievement?
But there’s an ongoing problem at said parties, and the pinched faces of those going home might be the biggest giveaway: many are saying that they still feel hungry after attending a corporate event. Imaginations and over the top expectations tend to run wild at the promise of a corporate-bought spread, but once guests arrive at the event, the reality’s simply sadly disappointing: there’s too much to drink, and too little to eat.
How’s a poor business to balance this out?
The Science Events Survey [hyperlink to said survey embedded in the text], conducted by event caterer Jackson Gilmour with the Science Museum, believes there’s something lacking in the typical corporate event reception.
When it came to food, they found the following:
- Up to 80% of attendees leave the event feeling as if they haven’t had enough to eat.
- 12% — IE: a rare minority — feel like they hadn’t had enough to drink.
- 30% of the attendees feel like they’ve had too much to drink.
But when it came to food they liked, the statistics got a little more specific:
- 64% enjoyed canapés while food stations and bowl food got only 20% of the vote.
- 82% of the respondents wanted to eat something new and exciting when it came to dinner.
- Only 12% wanted something they were familiar with.
And when it came to the drinks?
- 57% were satisfied with the usual set of drinks (wine, champagne, lagers and soda).
- 34% wanted cocktails.
- 76% of the respondents were content with two to three glasses of wine at a party.
Granted, not all corporate events are created equal.
Bigger corporations could host black-tie galas at the Hilton, while smaller businesses might opt for smart-casual lunches at a Collins St restaurant.
But putting the depth of your pockets aside, we’ve put together a few useful guidelines to consider, if you want your next event to be a success.
- Know your audience — or in this case, know your attendees. Your budget will determine a lot, but planning an event based on what the majority want and expect will mean that your attendees will be happily surprised, and will leave feeling well-catered to.
- Find out how many people are expected to attend. The number will help determine what quantity of drink or food is needed, in order to make sure no-one’s left hungry or thirsty.
- Don’t ignore – or forget about, your choice of word – dietary needs. For example: you’ll need to cater to vegetarians and gluten-free diets.
- Keep in mind what time your event starts, and when it’ll run to. If it’s held in the daytime, you could serve a range of light dishes like salads, sandwiches, or meat and cheese platters. Think about holding the event outside if the weather holds up well. For evening events, you’ll need to think about a three or four course meal or a buffet style spread. For conferences and long meetings, it’s better to serve light snacks along with some coffee or tea throughout the day.
- Consider the tone you’re aiming for in your event. A casual outdoor event allows for a less formal presentation, where guests will be able to – and should hopefully, enjoy — walking around and socializing with others. If your event has a theme, then you’ll find it easier to pick the cutlery and decor that fit. Bear in mind that more formal events might necessitate complicated courses, which in turn require certain forms of presentation.
When planning a corporate event, regardless of whether if it’s a conference meeting or a cocktail party, you need to plan out the system or order in which food and drinks are presented, along with other niceties you should make available to your guests.
For a conference meeting:
- Start with morning tea: coffee, tea, and pastries.
- Lunch: four to six dishes that are based on food preferences of attendees.
- Afternoon tea: more pastries, and further hot drinks.
- Dinner (if your conference runs late). A full course meal with drinks such as wine and/or champagne.
For a cocktail party:
- Commonly, there’ll be an open bar. For less formal cocktail parties there might be a limited selection of drinks to choose from, with a menu that presents available options.
- A variety of light snacks, which are passed around or placed on a designated table.
- Lots of water.
For a lunch event:
- Mini snacks and refreshments to start
- A meal that includes a variety of dishes for all preferences and palettes.
- Dessert options with tea and coffee.
All in all, a corporate event should be an enjoyable experience that brings about sparkling conversation and good memories.
And perhaps, should our list serve you well, these good memories will be of good food, too.