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Planning Staff Events Part 3: Food and Beverage

At the last corporate event I planned, there was only one complaint. Not enough food. But how could that be possible? I thought. I had ordered more than enough with a fantastic and reputable caterer. How could there have not been enough for everyone?

What I hadn’t accounted for was that when you are serving passed canapés, there is the inevitable situation of what I refer to as the ‘food beavers’. You’ve seen them before, perhaps you’ve even been part of them at some point (let’s face it, we all have). It’s that group of people who, much like beavers,  soon work out that if they set up a barricade near a particular door or area of the venue, they will be able to intercept the servers, and,  FBI style, start firing questions like ‘ooh, what’s that?’ or ‘can I take 5? For my friends…’ Then, before you know it, these people have devoured an amount of food that’s fit for a small army (or half a party) and are jumping in a cab to go home early because ‘they feel ill’… Yeah, I bet you do, twenty helpings of smoked salmon and cream cheese will do that to you.

So, how do you combat this army of food hoarders without doing a formal sit down dinner? You get sneaky and trick these beavers by providing multiple flow points of food. For example, try setting up various platters around the event (like cheese and veggie platters), add in a bite sized buffet and incorporate a few passed canapés for those who are busy enjoying the event. This way, no matter how much fun your guests are having (hopefully lots!) they will always have access to some belly filling delights.

This leads us to the reason we all need full bellies, the beverages. If you are organizing the bar yourself it can be a bit intimidating trying to calculate how much is enough, how much is too much, what to get of each type etc.  Your caterer or bartenders will be able to help with many of these questions, or you can use one of the many hand ‘drinks calculators’ found online through a quick Google search. It will take into account what you are serving and how many of your guests are heavy, moderate or light drinkers. Keep in mind too that you may be required to organize your own ‘special occasion’s license’ to legally serve alcohol at the event. These are very easy to obtain through any BC Liquor Store and cost just $25 for a private event. Keep in mind though that the person applying for the license will need to have their Serve It Right certificate and will legally be held responsible for anyone consuming alcohol on the night, meaning they will also need to be present. If you are hiring a caterer, they will also be able to apply for this on your behalf for the same fee.

Regarding responsibility of guest consuming alcohol, always be sure to check your company policy on staff events as many companies are required to provide a safe way home after an event where alcohol has been served. This can be taken care of through arranging an account and providing taxi vouchers for guests to use at the end of the night. This will all need to be pre-arranged with the cab company prior to the event and if you have a large group, it’s also a good idea to give them the heads up as to where the event is and when it ends so they can be prepared for the influx of calls.

I hope this three part series has helped you gain a better idea of what to think about when planning your next corporate or themed event. Feel free to tweet me @tdvondohren if you have any questions, and happy event planning!

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