Catering is a food service, specifically for preparing, transporting and providing meals, the amount of which is intended for anything between a small party to a mass gathering in scale. Sometimes beverages, snacks, and desserts are also provided on the side or even by themselves. Orders for catering are accepted by many restaurants and other businesses in food-related industries, ranging from freelancers to mainstream chains.

If you don’t know how to go about ordering catering, say for one’s own private event or as requested on another’s behalf, because you’re new or have run into difficulties in the past, then please review this helpful guide for tips on ordering catering:

How to Order Catering, for Beginners

Our first catering tip is quite a bit more involved than placing a call for takeout; first, consider who will be partaking. 

If you’re personally acquainted with others who will be around for the occasion, consider any dietary restrictions they may have. Is anyone a practicing vegan? Do they have allergies or are sensitive to gluten or lactose?

If you’re hosting an event and sending out invitations then a good move would be to include a question for each guest so you know what to prepare for. Even if you have no way of anticipating who may or may not have dietary restrictions, the best move is to provide options so anyone can find something for themselves.

This leads to our other important tip for ordering catering: portions. It’s relatively easy to figure that X amount of food will feed Y amount of people, but no two servings are the same. For instance, if serving barbecued pork or cuts of beef you’ll want to think in terms of ounces, typically 4-5 per person. Tacos can be treated as a unit each, 2-3 per person.

Careful planning ahead is the key to successfully placing an order for catering, so give yourself the time and think it through.

How Far in Advance to Order

Good question. The answer: it depends.

The first consideration is the size of the event. If anticipating more than 100 people, a 6 weeks-minimum notice is essential. For a smaller engagement, 2-3 weeks may work.

Another consideration is the timing; the Holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving) is primetime for many places that offer catering, but it’s a small window as well for others to book for an event. Keep this and the above in mind.

In our experience here at Juniper Grill, we recommend placing an order over 2 weeks in advance for any event with 100+ people. For any engagement with less than that number of attendees, over a week will do.

Ordering for an Event

Catering for Corporate Events

The important thing with ordering catering for a corporate setting, like a company party or training, is to know what the physical space you’re occupying is. Will it be at the company itself or a remote location like in a rented space? Make sure you have a full understanding of the vicinity and important details like access points, hours of business etc.

Catering for Parties

For any get-together that will have 20 or more people invited, perhaps a birthday or graduation party, inquiring about any special offers for a quick, easy meal and setup package is a good move. At Juniper Grill, our Set + Go Buffet option provides you with choices for food and includes set up as part of the package. 

Juniper Grill