Puff 'n Stuff Catering Blog
Five Steps to a Successful Summer Party
June 21, 2017 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

What’s the greatest thing about summer? Some would argue it’s the flip-flop weather or soaking up the vitamin D at the pool, but for any food lover, it’s the memories created with families and friends over an amazing meal. 

Whether you’re hosting a cookout next weekend or attending a Fourth of July celebration, there are many convenient food options that will keep you relaxed and focused on what really matters, enjoying those precious summer moments. You shouldn’t have to worry about prepping, cooking and cleaning. Let us do that! To help get you started, here’s our step-by-step guide for easy hosting this summer.

Pulled Pork with BBQ Sauce

Pulled Pork with BBQ Sauce • Photo Credit: Rosena Usmani

Step One: Making the Big Decisions

Begin the planning process by deciding when and where your event should take place and consider a theme. Choosing a theme is one of the biggest decisions you will make, and it will heavily influence your guest experience and budget. To create consistency, select food, music, décor, etc., that embodies your theme and includes details such as menu cards and cocktail pairings to tie everything together. Below is a list of popular summer themes to consider for your parties this season:

  • Tropical/Luau
  • All-Americana
  • Picnic
  • Family reunion
  • Neighborhood Block party
  • Beach day
  • Carnival

If you get stuck, just click here for more inspiration.

Step Two: Send Out Your Invitations

You probably haven’t given it too much thought than beyond the guest list, but when it comes to menu planning, there are a few important pieces of information you need before you can move forward.

  • Ask guests to let you know what they’re bringing. This only applies to parties where guests are expected to contribute food or drink, but will ensure there’s no overlap in the menu.
  • Ask for dietary restrictions. You want to make sure you’re offering enough vegetarian options to accommodate everyone’s palette.
  • Ask for a total guest count. You won’t be sending the five-year-old next door a personal invite, but you still need to know if chicken fingers are a requirement on the menu.

Step Three: It’s Okay to Call for Help

That’s what we’re here for. You’re busy, and when you want to make memories with families and friends you shouldn’t have to spend hours in the kitchen or cleaning up afterward.

Choosing to work with a caterer is a great idea:

  • Unlimited menu potential. Working with a professional caterer for all or a portion of your event will give your menu more versatility and easily include dietary requirements.
  • Cooking for everyone is just plain difficult. Do you have the right amount of ingredients? Equipment? The hours and hours it will take to prepare all the food, let alone space? Hiring a professional caterer will leave you worry-free, and with really good food!
  • Be the host-with-the-most. Trust us, nothing makes a statement quite like butler-passed hors d’oeuvres or bar service.
  • Take the pressure off. Your caterer can provide décor as well as custom food items and presentation based on the theme of your event, while ensuring food safety.

P.S. If you are attending an event and plan to contribute, try picking up a platter for the party. We know you want to be the guest with the best (food, that is) so look for options beyond your local fast food chain or grocery store. A lot of catering companies have pick up or delivery menus that offer a unique twist on classic recipes an include serving utensils and disposable presentation trays.

The perfect addition to any party, the Sweet Treats Platter

Sweet Treats Platter • Photo Credit: Rosena Usmani

Step Four: It’s Getting Hot in Here

The day is here and all your planning is coming to fruition. Your catering Special Event Planner will have all the logistics worked out so you can sit back, relax and enjoy while keeping these important tips in mind:

  • One of the biggest challenges you face with hosting an outdoor event are those pesky bugs that never want to leave you alone. Make sure to use glass lids or pop-up food covers to keep them out of your food.
  • Have plenty of water on-hand. The summer is HOT. Whether you are having an outdoor or indoor event, it is important to keep guests and yourself hydrated. 

Step Five: Clean Up (Or Don’t) 

Let’s be honest, nobody likes to clean up after hours of frivolity and fun so be sure to put out recycle and trash bins for disposables and designate specific areas for dirty dishes. Or work with a professional caterer, and it’s guarantee you won’t have to lift a finger.

  • If you chose pick up or delivery option. Everything is on disposable trays and you can just toss them out. Easy.
  • If you chose full service. Don’t worry at all; your caterers’ service team will handle it and you get all the credit.

Summer is about savory flavors and making memories, and now that you’re a pro at planning summer events you can enjoy every sun-soaked moment.

The Best Menu Planning Tips for Hosted Events
June 16, 2017 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

Whether you’re coordinating a corporate lunch for 15 or hosting a bridal shower for 30, when it comes to menu planning, a little food for-thought, goes a long way. Of course, if you have the extra time you can prepare the food from scratch, or if you’re like most hosts, you’re reading this post because your fridge is empty and you don’t have time, and you need help.

Deciding to hire a professional caterer to provide all, or supplemental food and beverage items is a great way to save time during the planning process, but it’s also an insurance policy that on the day of the event, everything will go according plan.

Purposeful Event Planning

Start by considering the purpose of your event. Thinking about the why, who, when and where will provide a blueprint throughout the planning process and help you stay on budget. During this preliminary stage determine:

  • What type of event are you hosting?
  • How many guests are expected?
  • If the event formal or casual?
  • What will guests be doing?
  • What location will provide an ideal setting to create the appropriate atmosphere?
  • What time food service is most appropriate?
  • Do you want to use china and glassware, or disposable serving pieces?
  • What is your total event budget?
  • What portion of your budget will be spent on décor, food and beverage, and entertainment?
Premium Patter for Every Occassion

Photo Credit: Rosena Usmani

Menu Planning

Professional caterers offer a variety of service levels that can range from convenient delivery and pick up menus to full-service. Typically, for smaller events such as birthdays, social parties, graduations, funerals and office or business luncheons, delivery and pick up options will provide a wide range of food choices at a less expensive price point than that of a full-service event.

During the menu creation step, take the time to learn about your guests and any specific theme or dietary restrictions they might have. Tailoring the menu to your guest’s expectations and your intended event purpose will achieve a unique menu mix that ensures everyone is happy and full.

Look to your caterer to assist with quantifying food amounts, creating the food service timeline and offering creative suggestions for menu and presentation enhancements. Brainstorm the following questions with your caterer:

  • How much food do you want provide? Is the expectation lunch, light bites or a full meal?
  • Guest dietary restrictions?
  • Food safety guidelines including time food will be displayed or served.
  • Are there onsite facilities (oven, refrigerator, freezer, etc.) to maintain correct food temperature?
  • Based on the overall event agenda, what will the flow be for food service; will guests arrive all at once, or trickle in?
  • Are you providing supplemental food and beverage, or will your caterer provide everything?
  • What is your food and beverage budget?

How To Set Up A Buffet Table

If you have opted for delivery, pick up or to make your own food then you will need to consider where and how to set up your buffet display. The size, shape and direction of your buffet line will depend on the room, numbers of guests and food items.

Start by considering the relationship between the food table, bar/beverage table, and guest seating within the room. Ideally, food and bar/beverage will be presented on separate tables, so that guests may easily replenish with minimal waiting. This preliminary step will help define the overall flow for how guests will serve themselves and ensure no bottleneck areas.

Place plates and rolled silverware at the beginning of the buffet line. Then arrange food items in the expected order that a person typically eats. This is simply, hors ‘d oeuvres/appetizers, bread, salad, sides and then entrees. If you are planning to place deserts on the same buffet, than naturally go at the end. Voila!

Grazing Station

Photo Credit: Rosena Usmani

Buffet Planning Tips:

  • It goes without saying, but start with a sturdy table.
  • Strategically place receptacles for trash around the room and close to the food and bar/beverage tables.
  • Write a list of appropriate serving utensils needed for each item and purchase a few extras, or have your caterer provide.
  • Consider a small plate for holding serving utensils next to food items in a chaffing dish or container with a lid.
  • Leave enough space between food items for menu cards and minimal décor.

Your guests have arrived; your buffet is set, the only thing left to do is enjoy. And just remember, the success of any event is in the planning.