Tips for successful birthday party Catering

The tips that follow assume you are organising a twenty first party for 40 to 100 people. Much bigger than that you may need a professional venue, security and perhaps a professional event organiser. Day time parties are easier to manage. Check the date doesn’t clash with friends or major concerts!

1. Food service

With a 21st it’s important that food is served as soon as guests arrive. This limits the impact of the alcohol. Serving finger food throughout the evening works very well at reducing over-indulgence in alcohol. More than most events, it’s important at a 21st for people to mingle and finger food works great for this while keeping catering costs under control. some companies to try

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2. Tips on a theme

A theme makes the night more memorable, gets people involved and makes the party distinctive. It helps with decisions about catering and music. It can be used as a means of self-expression by the party boy or girl. Are they outdoors types or intellectual types? What is their taste in TV/music/movies? Do they have a particular cultural interest or hobby that could be a theme? Use your imagination! Here are some suggestions:

  • Hollywood – Get some guests to be paparazzi outside and take photos of people as they arrive. Present a video of the guest of honour later and introduce it like a movie premiere.
  • 60s/70s/80s themes are good fun. Easy for everyone to costume and the music selects itself. The year the person was born is another possibility.
  • Fancy dress (well obviously) but note that this might not work if everyone plans to kick on afterwards somewhere else.
  • Colours make good themes, so do letters of the alphabet. Usually the initial of the party boy or party girl’s first name.
  • Casinos are a good theme because you can organise themed activities and games. Activities eliminate the boredom that mixed with alcohol leads to trouble.
  • Pool parties, cruises and discos are popular. Here are a couple of more outrageous options: wedding theme, sci-fi, car rally, sleaze, progressive party…
  • 3. Preparations

    Reduce stress: organise things well in advance. This includes all the catering and entertainment but also things like the memory board (a pin-up board full of photos) and the web page, if you’re putting one together. A 21st blog will help build excitement and can be used to host baby photos and party photos. Get all-inclusive quotes for everything (music, food, security, entertainment, equipment hire…) in writing well before the event.

    4. Briefing your son/daughter/parent

    Successfully navigating the 21st requires parents and the 21 year old to agree terms. The best time to do this is before a decision to proceed is made. The 21yo will want the parents to fund the event. The parents will want to be sure the party does not end in the Emergency Department of the local hospital or with the Police Tactical Response Group using tasers on the guests.

    Points of discussion usually include the number of guests, ending times, ground rules for speeches and sometimes include discussions about drug use. If the focus of the event is ‘a fantastic party with family and my best friends’ the conversation about numbers is irrelevant. It just needs a list of best friends. Hopefully your birthday son or daughter are among those mature enough to see beyond a contest to see who can throw the biggest party. The conversation about the party should be ‘how can we make this fantastically memorable without relying on alcohol or drugs’.

    The fact is, most kids by age 21 will have been to parties with alcohol or drugs, so if their 21st is to be special, it should be different to the normal parties they go to. The real difference is, this party is about them in particular, about their special friends and about becoming an adult.

    5. Security – Minimising risks

    Invitations are a necessity. They should be produced at the door. Names should be crossed off a list. Alternatively, send a security bracelet (a tamper-proof security band) with the invitation. This makes it easy for someone to control admission and drinks service. If you consider the security risk high, engage a professional security outfit. Ideally they would employ ex-police officers who understand how to handle conflict resolution. Invitations should specify a closing time. Remember that if you specify midnight, people will generally leave between then and 1AM.

  • Lock all doors.
  • Remove valuables from sight
  • Keep the entertainment going. Tips: dancing is great. Karaoke is great. Videos of the 21 year old are great. Gather everyone in for the speeches. Then let them spread out, then gather them in again for the cutting of the cake. It sounds mean, but regular interruptions reduce the risk of people getting up to mischief.
  • 6. Choosing a venue

    Home is cheap and may be your preferred option. But professional venues do clean up and they have a fixed closing time. It’s harder to get people to leave a domestic premises. Some venues will allow you to use your own caterers; others will insist you use theirs.

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