What comes to mind with the concept of catering your next event, wedding reception or party? Endless deli sandwich trays at a business convention or corporate event? Maybe identical platters of meat or vegetarian options at a wedding? No doubt about it—catering is usually associated with grand, large-scale events or wedding receptions. But does it always have to feel so impersonal?

Absolutely not! Catering is an equally attractive option for small, intimate events—a lesson I learned myself through years of hosting dinner parties at home with friends. When I fulfilled my dream of opening Avec Moi, a small to-go and catering service, I wanted to bring delicious food back into entertaining. I wanted to bring the personal flavor of a home-cooked meal to the intimate gatherings of my customers.

Whether a cocktail party with the girls, a small corporate event with co-workers or even a romantic dinner party for two, a small event becomes completely distinct—not to mention delicious—with the culinary skill, resources and fresh ingredients of a small events caterer. Being served rubber chicken, powdery sauce or half-frozen veggies is virtually unheard of in the imaginative world of small event catering.

From one foodie to another, here are a few tips for catering your next intimate soiree:

Personalize Your Menu

When chatting with hosts about their ideal menu, multiple factors about the event come into play. How many guests will be in attendance? Is it an actual meal or a ‘mix-and-mingle’ where guests are only munching on appetizers? What time of year is it? When all of these elements have been taken into consideration, I generally advise that the menu at a small event go one of two ways: multiple little dishes or a few dishes prepared in repetition.

  • No Two Dishes the Same. The first option allows guests to taste a wider variety of flavors. Some of my best sellers: blueberry grape relish over goat cheese with crostini, caprese salad on skewers with marinated mozzarella, or Devils on Horeseback (bacon-wrapped prunes). Variety is the spice of life! Perhaps ideal for a more intimate gathering, your guests will love testing all the options. Girls’ wine nights can get repetitive—these delectable bites are sure to switch things up.
  • Less is More. Preparing fewer options but more trays of them is convenient for a larger crowd. Dips (Exhibit A: Spinach artichoke dip, a tried and true favorite) are easy to make in mass quantities and sure to please hungry guests. Some other classics that come in bulk but never get boring? Sausage and Cheese balls or  Mini Meatball Sandwiches. This is not a less personal option by any means—just suitable for larger-scale events and equally home-made.
Money Saving Tip

Consider not hiring a full-service caterer. It’s quite affordable to order appetizers and serve them yourself. The service itself is often where the price rises—but catering can be an affordable option!

It’s all about the distinction you bring to the affair. A personal relationship with your caterer allows you to reflect your vision into the event and make that perfect statement to guests! So take a breather, you can take a break from cooking and still enjoy a home-cooked meal.

Kris Parmelee, owner of Avec Moi in Indianapolis, is passionate about making  fresh comfort food for carry-out and catering. Follow Avec Moi on Facebook or Twitter to learn more, or place an order for your next event.
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