Office Party of 40? Don’t panic.

Office Party of 40? Don’t panic.

Save the Date

As soon as you know the party is in the planning, you need to find the date, set the date and hold on to that date for dear life. That’s why it’s called “saving”!

Why are dates so important?  Because you have suppliers, including caterers, who have to turn up even before your guests!  If your event is around any holidays then this there is high demand for catering services. Setting the date early is a must.

When you are trying to get 40 people to turn up to the same place at the same time, the hardest thing sometimes is to find a convenient date.  However sometimes the date is set in stone. If absolutely everyone has to be there, then the more you plan ahead the better. That means telling all guests to save the date and working with those who claim they have a conflict to get the date cleared.  Keep on them and whoever else who can free that date for them.  Make sure everyone has the event in their calendars and send out (exciting) reminders.

And talking of calendars, set up dates in your own calendar by which the following need to be completed.

Set the Budget

Once you have the date out of the way, think about the scope of the event to establish a budget.

Head Count

You absolutely need to know how many guests you have to cater for. This may or may not be the actual number invited or the actual number who end up attending. It is more like the number of people you might have to feed.  Err on the side of caution. Hungry people tend to view events as less successful than well-fed people. Left over food always finds a home.

Headcount, along with menu, dictates the size of the room. It also dictates the number of gifts and so on.  Count the people, people!


Once you have the headcount, you need to think about the venue, the food and drink as well decorations, entertainment and gifts.  First think about about how much you want/need to spend on food and drink per person.

At what time of day will this event be held and for how long will the event be run?  How hungry will your guests be when they arrive?  Is this a main meal like breakfast, lunch or dinner?  Or is it party food and snacks?  Is it just after lunch or just before dinner?

Does the event have a theme?  Will it dictate the type of food? Is there going to be a shared item like a cake?

Now look at your caterer’s menu to get an idea of  what you might order.  Now you should have a rough idea of food costs.

Do you need to budget for table settings such as linens, crockery and cutlery?  How about decorations?  Will you need serving staff ? Add a cost for them and don’t forget tips.  If your budget does not allow for staff then maybe rethink the type of food you plan to serve so it is becomes “self” serve.

Are you having any entertainment? Are you handing out gift bags?

Best advice?  Put it all into a spreadsheet.


Even if you are doing this in-house, you need to make sure you book the area for your use.  So not only book the room, inspect it and visualize the event. Think about where tables will go, food displayed or served, gift bags set up etc.  Draw it on paper if that helps. Adjust your budget if you think you will need more decorations etc. Remember the venue is making the first impression.


Once you have your budget, call your caterer and explain the type of event as well as the date and time.  Get their advice on the menu based on your budget.  Don’t forget drinks. Ask if they can supply the table linens and settings, if needed.  Ask if they can supply staff, if you think you will need them.  Get a quote.  Get quotes from other caterers if you have note made a choice.  Find out when they will need you to place to the order. Make a note when to place it as soon as you make a choice.

Update your spreadsheet.  See if you have more or less to spend on other items now. 


If you need staff and your caterer cannot supply them, you will need to source them from a staffing agency.  But maybe you can get volunteers from within your company to hand around hors d’oeurves?  Isn’t that what interns are for?  And again, update your spreadsheet if you need to add additional costs.

Place Orders

Hire the caterer. Confirm the menu, date and time and any other arrangements.  A week prior to the event, check numbers and adjust with caterer.

Order everything else you need and track delivery.

Again don’t forget drinks.

Hint?  Constantly update your spreadsheet and track tasks as well as costs. 


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