Many people planning a party or event opt for buffet-style service over plated meals. It is a common and popular options because it provides several benefits in terms of convenience, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and much more. However, not every event is best suited for buffet catering, so be sure you know the difference.
If you choose to have buffets at your event, there are some important tips you need to know in order to ensure the best experience possible. Continue reading to learn these tips, including how to determine if your event is a good fit for buffet-style catering.
Types of Events
As mentioned, not all events are good fits for buffets. For instance, if you are dressing up in black tie and formal wear, you wouldn’t expect to navigate through a buffet and serve yourself at dinner. So to help make the determination between plated meals and a buffet simply consider the type of event you are planning. The general rule of thumb is that the more formal the event, the more you should lean toward plated meals. If your guests are dressing up in jackets, dresses, gowns, or tuxedos, a plated meal service would be more appropriate. However, more laid back events, are well-suited for self-service.
There are some exceptions to this rule, however. The higher the guest count gets, the less practical a buffet will be. Large events with hundreds of guests would not do well with a buffet, regardless of how formal or informal. The amount of time and space needed would be too much. Another exception are weddings. Weddings can be formal, but receptions are usually more informal. Wedding receptions would be well-suited for buffets, so long as the guest list doesn’t exceed 100 guests; then it could become less practical.
When to Choose a Buffet
Buffets are great options for parties that are offering more than one entrée option. This is especially helpful if you are unsure of the dietary restrictions or preferences of all the guests expected to attend. Another example of when buffets are a good choice is when you are planning an event that is not centered on a dinner. For instance, if you are hosting an event with a focus on a certain activity, such as a poker tournament or networking social, a buffet would be the perfect fit since it comes secondary to the main activity.
For some events, having both plated meal service and buffets can be beneficial. This works by having salads and desserts on each place setting prior to guest arrival, followed by a buffet selection of appetizers and main courses. The advantages of a hybrid buffet approach is mostly centered on efficiency and convenience. Not only does it reduce the amount of foot traffic carrying plates from line to table, it makes certain a consistent start time for dinner.
Another optional approach to this type of buffet-service is to incorporate a “captain’s call”, which means that wait staff will alert each table when it is time to take their turn in the buffet line. This is especially helpful for events with a large guest count.