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“Hangry:” The state of being angry because of hunger

Are you keeping your attendees well fed? Do you make the right choices for menus so that you have healthy and tasty options?

Our TME team is very good at making sure we are well fed. This is in part due to our staff member, Stephanie, who can sometimes fit the description of hangry. Thankfully, we’ve always been able to feed her before the darker emotions start bubbling up. However, it brings to light an excellent point that must be considered for any event: the provision of food.

Today’s post is a follow up to previous post on venue searching. When writing our recent post on venues, it soon became apparent that the topic of food was expansive enough to require its own blog post.

The overarching theme today: understand the food options available and what your guests and function will require.

Quantity

You must decide how much you’re going to feed them. When determining this, it is helpful to answer several questions:

  • What time of the day is your event?
  • How many attendees are you expecting?
  • Is this the only meal guests will have or have had for several hours?
  • Will your guests have had time to grab a bite to eat before hand, or will they have come straight to the venue from the airport and a long day of traveling, expecting a full plated dinner upon arrival?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help define how much food will be needed.

Type of Service

Standard food service options at events include a seated, plated dinner, a buffet, or hors d’oeuvres (stationary and/or passed). Each option has respective pros and cons:

  • Plated. A plated meal has a certain elegance to it. The food is artfully arranged by a chef before being brought out by wait staff and placed before each guest. Plated meals are often portion controlled, so they are typically and surprisingly cheaper than a buffet meal. As breakfast is often more casual than lunch and dinner, it tends to be less often a plated meal.
  • Buffet. Offering a buffet is an excellent way to feed a crowd, especially a diverse one. Individuals can have more or less food depending on their preferences and can choose from the options provided. However, due to its less portion-controlled set up, buffets can be a higher per person cost than a plated meal. It is also important to consider how many people will be in attendance and if long lines will build up, creating unhappy guests. If you’re concerned about this, consider adding additional tables set up with food to allow more guests to pass through at the same time.
  • Hors d’oeuvres. This option is more for receptions and events before or after meal times.  Hors d’oeuvres are often served on stationary tables, passed by wait staff, or a combination of both. Stations provide a method to serve more people and more food, while passing adds an air of class to the event, which is why events often use both. If you do choose this option for an event during peak meal times, it is courteous to let your guests know what to expect. A simple note on the invitation that light hors d’oeuvres will be served should do the trick in managing your attendees’ expectations and will help to avoid “hangry” guests.

Dietary Needs

The food options of late are rarely just the traditional beef or chicken. Recently, there has been an increase in people having allergies to nuts, shellfish, dairy, gluten, et cetera as well as folks adhering to vegetarian, vegan or Kosher diets for numerous reasons. While not required to do so, it is a courteous gesture for the hosts to recognize that some guests may have dietary restrictions and to provide options and food tags to identify which items do or do not contain certain ingredients.

Timing

This is less about what meal you intend to serve (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) and more about the appropriate timing within your program for serving the food. Our best suggestion is to use common sense: you shouldn’t serve breakfast at 11am, lunch at 2:30pm, or dinner at 9pm. If your guests are arriving from work to your evening event where you promised dinner and you want to have guests focus on the programming (as opposed to their growling stomachs), serve food promptly before a long program. Similarly, it can be distracting for servers to distribute food to the audience during a speaker’s presentation. Instead, try to time the table service for breaks in the programming; your speakers will surely appreciate not having to compete with the main course!

We hope this post helps you feed your guests well before they get “hangry!”

Photo Credit: Plaque at Target Store

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