I was thinking last night about a current client I have that was asking about DIY catering. I highly recommend getting a licensed caterer BUT when the budget does allow for this.. there are still some things that you can do it yourself that will save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. I had some numbers written down in one of my older books that I used to use to give clients as recommendations on how much food to buy an what to buy to create a good looking finger food menu.. so now I’ll share with you!
Also I am basing this catering suggestions off of a 200 Guest Count list.. if you have less you should be able to figure out.. but if you cant.. just email me and I will help you figure out how much you need.
Alright first all the plasticware! – You can get these things at a SAMS club or Costco
- When your doing finger food, get smaller dessert plates 250 – tip: with a smaller plate the guests will choose to get less food.. but if you have a large dinner plate they will fill it up and you will need more food.
- Get the box of 400 clear forks.. or if you want to go for something fancier they now have a plastic silver fork that looks like the real thing.. but its throw away.. they should now carry these at sams also. The name is called Reflections Silverware.
- Dinner Napkins – just get the huge package — i think there are like 600-800
- Cups-600 – 8 oz cup – these are smaller but again.. the guests will drink less.. and a lot of times the guests will drink a little bit and set it down and then go back up and get another one.. so make sure you have 3-4 cups per guest
Next the Food – Based on a 200 Guest Count – From Sams Club or Costco
I’ve seperated the foods into sections.. the vegetable plate.. normally the carrots and broccoli was enough.. the tomatoes get smashed and juicy.. but you can get the little tomatoes too.
Also with the veggies.. if you wanted to get carrot sticks and celery sticks and cut into little strips and place inside a plastic shot glass with a little bit of ranch already in there – this is also a big hit with guests.. just takes a lot of time.. on site..
3 Large Bags of Broccoli
- 3 Large Bags of Carrots
- 2 Large Bags of Celery
- 2 Giant Bottles of Ranch Dressing (they normally come in a package of 2) — Make sure to refrigerate the day before
- Scoop Chips (see picture above) – 8 Large Bags – At Sams you have to make sure to put them in the clear bags.. its buy 1 get 1 free type thing
- 6 containers of Fresh Salsa — this is in the refrigerated section.. this salsa is impressive.. PACE and other typical salasas.. not so much.. but this one looks like you cut it all up fresh
- Also renting a chip and dip silver bowl.. makes this look really cute also
- Toasteds Party Pack Mixed Crackers – 3 Large Boxes
- 2 Bags of Cobly Cheese Cubes
- 2 Bags of Pepper Cheese Cubes
- 2 Bags of Swiss Cheese Cubes
OR if you want to kick it up a knotch Do the cheeseball and crackers — The guests would rave over this cheese ball and its one of the easiest to make.. Heres how you do it.
2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese.. softened
1 (1 ounce) package of ranch dressing mix
2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans
In a bowl combine the cream cheese, dressing mix and cheddar cheese.. smash all together.. (I found the easiest way to mix is with my hands) .. shape into a ball and roll in the pecans.. refrigerate until ready to eat.
For a wedding– I would take the recipe and double it —( a log style would be even better.. so everyone gets a little of the pecans.. if its a ball shape they get all the pecans first and then its just the cream cheese mixture.. which is still good.. but the log will let everyone get the pecans.. )that would feed 25 people.. so for 200 guests you need 8 balls. — same amount of crackers
Another great finger food favorite was the Strawberries and Fruit Dip – Serve the dip in a hollowed out pineapple .. easy and pretty!
For 200 Guests 18 (2lb containers) of Strawberries.. wash all of them with water and leave the heads on
the Fruit Dip is this recipe
1 package of cream cheese plus 1 regular sized container of marshmallow creme
hollowed out pineapple for the “bowl”
I would head the marshmellow cream (get the kind in the plastic containers — I think walmart is where I got these).. heat in the microwave just till it muffin tops. then pour in the softened cream cheese… put a little of milk in it.. this will keep if from getting super thick.. Then after I got through making all I needed I would pour the dip into the 5.2 cups Square GLAD plastic containers..
For 200 Guests you need 12 cream cheese and 12 marshmallow creams..
For the Drink I recommend the Fruit Punch and Water – 20 Gallons of each should do the trick — There are a lot of great punch recipes.. but that was something I didnt have a lot of time to make.. and the fruit punch was so good from sams.. it was a great one! Add 7-up and some sherbert ice cream.. to take it up a notch… but practice if first.. make sure you like it..
Also dont forget the ice – you’ll need 2 lb of ice for every 10 guests — per EACH type of drink.. – so for 200 Guests you need 40lb of ice (I always got extra.. just in case)
Now the Setup
So now you want to make it pretty… this is where hiring the decorator..or having the wedding planner set up something simple comes in handy.. BUT if you cant do those things.. I will try to walk you through a good setup! There are some training videos also about wall draping and table draping you may want to watch to really make this a focal point.. and boy with all the money you just saved doing it yourself… you can afford the decor! Now remember the decor wholesalers are on our wholesale list.. (well worth the money) First I’m going to show you several pictures of different catering setups.. then explain how they are done.. And even if you dont have backdrops.. Its about The linens, the different levels and lighting.
So a couple things we always did.. had milk crates on hand, lots of extra cloth to cover the “levels” and had 2-4 buffet lamps — the lighting always made it to where everyone could see the food but still romantic feel.
This was the carrot shooters and the shrimp shooters.. (cocktail sauce in the bottom) I had a single orchid. almost in every cup.. it made it pretty.. but how I did the setup.. I went to LOWES and had them cut me some plexiglass I think they were 5″ wide by 6 feet long (This way they would fit on a 6 foot or 8 foot table).. I had double cut.. beacause I took fresh petals and sandwiched them between the glass.. I used the clear glass blocks (again I bought them at Lowes) to raise them up different levels.. I think I had 4 blocks per each level.. then I took normal string lighting and strung all up underneath the glass … this made the whole setup glow… probably one of my favorites! but thats how I did it.
Here are some more pictures of different ideas for catering setup.. if you have a question about a particular setup.. just email me at Wendy@eventprotraining.com
Hopefully this blog has been helpful! And remember you can pin any pictures you see here! Thanks for stopping by!