How to Choose a Caterer for Your Company’s Christmas Party

Finding the right caterer for your Christmas party is a huge consideration – get the food right and your staff will feel satisfied and well looked after. Create a warm friendly atmosphere and the whole company will enjoy the festive period and return to work in the new year fresh, enthusiastic and focused. So what should you consider when choosing a caterer and what questions should you ask potential service providers?

Before you start looking for a catering company complete the following tasks:

Consider the style and atmosphere that you want to create? The style or theme of your event, may dictate the type of food you would like to be served. Having an idea of the type of food you would like will really help your caterer to put together a menu which will suit your needs and budget.

Decide if your event will be formal or more relaxed? Is a sit down meal, or would you like to consider a more informal cocktail reception? Caterers will provide a range of services including waiter served Hor D’oeuvres, set meals, A La Carte options and hot or cold buffets – have something in mind before meeting a potential caterer.

Book your venue and have an approximate headcount of numbers attending. Caterers will need this information to provide you with an accurate quote for your event.

Do you need a caterer who can create an entire theme for you and run the party? Or will they simply be managing the food and drink?

Do you need a caterer who can provide alcoholic drinks or does your venue have a bar facility?


Do your homework and find out about caterers in your area. Speak to colleagues, friends and family members who have enlisted the services of caterers in recent years. Word of mouth and recommendations are always a good way to source a service like outside catering.

Check out online catering directories and venue directories – venues will often recommend caterers who have previously worked their venue.

Follow up testimonials and references listed by caterers on their website or directory listing.

Create a short-list of a few caterers who seem to fit the bill.


Call the caterers on your short list and ask a number of questions:

Are they available on the date required and are they able to service the location of your venue?
Discuss your general budget and food requirements. Can they suggest exciting and interesting menus and/or serving styles?
Ask what the service will include, such as staff, linen, glassware, crockery, cutlery, serving utensils etc.
Ask about provision of alcoholic drinks – are you obliged to buy their drinks or can you take your own? If so, ask about corkage fees – these vary greatly, so be clear about what you need to pay for.
Ask about their licenses – are they licensed to provide food and alcohol?
Consider visiting an other event the caterers are hosting and asking about sampling opportunities
Ask about food safety and storage. How will the food be transported and stored? Is there a time limit on buffet items being laid on tables?

If you’d like more information on the rules and regulations governing food safety, take a look at the following site for more information:


So you’ve found the caterer which is just right for your Christmas party, now you will need to liaise with them to work out the exact detail of your event.

Consider visiting the venue together to discuss how and where the food will be presented – floor/table plans should be discussed at this point.

Finalise your menu and numbers to make sure that there is something for everyone, including vegetarians.

Create an event timeline to detail precise responsibilities your caterer will have from preparation to clear-up. Ascertain whether the caterer will provide an event manager at the party, who will be your first point of contact, to ensure the catering runs smoothly.

Discuss the caterer’s general contract and discuss any possible changes you or they may need to make to tailor the catering to your specific event.

Ensure you have considered any circumstances which may require a partial or full refund. Ensure you have considered what will happen in the event of any breakages or damage to the caterers equipment and likewise, to that of any property of your party-goers. Ask about cancellation times and fees for both you and the caterer.


As a business owner I have arranged many Christmas parties, large and small. A favourite outside catering firm of mine, one whom I have used on many occasion is Stones Events. Tom and his team of dedicated chefs, cooks & waiters never fail to provide a great service and in my opinion are the best exclusive caterer in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. We will most certainly be using their services again this Christmas and then again in the summer when they often manage our corporate hog roast [] event.

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