Home' F and V : WAs Best Functions and Venues 2010 Contents 14 F&V | 2010
crockery and cutlery. Catering staff can also do as
much or as little as you require in terms of handing
food around and cleaning up. But be aware that
they are not likely to be able to stay all night and
at some point, the food delivery will stop!
These days many people hire chefs to take
over the kitchen even for small dinner parties
or private gatherings. The chef cooks, the
waitress serves and cleans up and you don t have
to do anything more strenuous than keep the
conversation ticking over and pour the wine.
Whether your guests will expect a proper
meal or just finger food will depend on the time
you hold the function. If your party starts at
7 or 7.30pm, for example, you are looking at
dinner. But if your party is at 8 or 8.30pm, your
uests are quite likely to have eaten a meal already
nd will only want good-quality nibblies. If it s a
ocktail function at 5.30 or 6pm, substantial hors
oeuvres are in order. It may be appropriate to
make it clear what you are intending to serve on
If you decide to go without caterers, keep your
ood simple, do as much as possible before the party
arts and designate someone trustworthy to be
n charge of food on the evening. Don t get into a
tuation where you are stressing out about who you
re going to get to carve the beef at the last minute.
Whatever food you decide to provide, you
must always err on the side of generosity. Have
lenty available. You ll look like a generous host,
ou ll set your guests at ease and you ll give your
friends the chance soak up some of the alcohol.
There is a good reason why people like to drink
alcohol at social gatherings: there is no doubt
it helps people relax and break the ice in social
I m not talking about having a swim-through,
and in a media climate fuelled by fears of binge
drinking and alcohol-related violence, you may be
uncertain about just how much alcohol to serve.
But assuming we are talking about a relatively
mature guest-list, you will find that making
plenty of drinks available, especially early in the
evening, will help create a great party atmosphere
Make sure everyone has a glass in their hand
the moment they arrive. If they are a little
tipsy early, they can then slow down during
the evening -- much better than the other way
around. People are often tired and stressed when
they get to a party and that first drink is a great
If your function has a theme, this is the time
to serve your themed cocktail. Otherwise serve a
good champagne or champagne cocktail.
Your caterers can advise on how much alcohol
to buy but otherwise there are several calculators
on the Internet. In general the formula seems to
be about one-and-a-half drinks per person per
hour. You need to work out what proportion of
your guests are likely to drink beer and how many
will want wine. Again, be generous. If a bottle is
not opened it will not go to waste.
Of course, you should make plenty of
sparkling water available as well and later in the
evening you should put out coffee and tea.
PICK A DAY
While Saturday is obviously the best party night,
there are only so many in the year and function
venues are often booked up years in advance.
If you plan well enough ahead and keep your
mind open to venue possibilities, you should be
OK. Fridays are a popular "going out" night but
more in terms of unwinding after work and not
good for a well-organised function or party. Your
guests, often exhausted after a long week at work,
are likely to find it difficult to get ramped up for
a party on a Friday and may want to leave early
simply to get to bed.
Business functions are also best held mid-
week. Guests can come straight from work if
necessary. They are still interested in networking
and are not in wind-down mode yet, nor are they
completely exhausted. Saturdays are difficult for
business functions -- once people get home, they
often find it hard to summon up enthusiasm for a
work function on a weekend.
DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT
Think outside the square for maximum bang
for your buck. Consider a breakfast gathering
or brunch on a Sunday morning. Your chosen
venue will be more likely to be available and your
guests may well appreciate the novelty. You will
have fewer expenses in terms of alcohol and less
chance of unruly guests who won t go home (but
I m not promising). It also gives your busy guests
the chance to squeeze more into the day -- they
can come to brunch and still make it to the U13s
football final in the afternoon.
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