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How to Pick the Food for a Convention

group of people eating at a convention

One of the important tasks you will have to tackle when planning a convention is the menu. You will have to choose the food for your convention, which can be difficult. Sometimes, the food decision is easy based on the convention you are holding and other times, it’s a rather time-consuming decision.

Food and beverage plays a pretty big role at a convention. You want to make sure you choose the right menu for those attending, the budget and all the other factors. Here are some of the things to consider when choosing food for your convention.

Here are the tips for planning a convention menu:

  • Find The Best Caterer
  • Decide on Meals
  • When will the Food be Served?
  • Considering Special Needs
  • Dinner is the Hardest Choice

Find The Best Caterer

You will likely choose a caterer for the event, which will help to choose your menu. Amazing¬†companies won’t be able to prepare anything under the sun and some may have specific options they offer. When you choose your convention caterer, you’re choosing the food you want, to an extent.

Remember, the menu your caterer presents you with will be flexible. Often, they will customize items to fit your needs and they will be able to give you recommendations based on the size of the convention. Make sure you understand how flexible your caterer will be before you choose the food you want for your convention.

Decide on Meals

Will you be serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, all three or two meals? If it’s an all-day convention, you may be offering lunch and dinner or breakfast and lunch. Sometimes, you may even offer all three. Understanding the types of meals you will be offering will go a long way in helping you choose the food for your convention.

If you plan to offer breakfast, a packaged menu will be cost-effective and easier to implement. This can include continental options, breakfast stations or hot buffets. make sure you choose the right option for the event schedule of the convention.

When offering lunch, you can choose a buffet to give attendees a “working lunch” or you can have a boxed lunch option. The options could include a few sandwich choices and a few sides. The best choice for lunch will depend on the amount of time your guests have to eat and the budget you are working with.

Dinner is a harder choice because it’s usually a larger meal for most people. You can choose a buffet or a plated dinner with three to five courses. Typically, the items for dinner will reflect the personal preferences of the caterer as this is the time to show off the skills of the chef.

When will the Food be Served?

Time is a huge factor in choosing convention food. If you will be serving lunch on a 30-minute break for attendees, the meal needs to fit into that timeframe. Break foods are usually more budget-friendly because they will be served in a buffet-style or as a boxed lunch or packaged option. You will also offer simple beverage options without a large selection.

If the convention will include a reception after, it may be necessary to serve hors-d’oeuvres and have a bar. The bar could be open or cash and the food may be passed by the waiter or it could be served at stations, such as a hot platter station, a cold platter station, and a dessert station.

Considering Special Needs

Often, convention invitations will ask for an RSVP, which will allow the guest to state any special needs for food. This could include food allergies, religious requirements or dietary restrictions. With so many different food choices available, many have adopted special diets, such as vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free or meat-free. Some guests may also have religious requirements or food allergies you must consider.

Make sure the caterer you hire can work around any food allergies. If you know ahead of time, it can be helpful, but your caterer should be able to handle special food requests on the fly if you were unaware of someone’s special food needs.

Dinner is the Hardest Choice

If you will be serving dinner, you have a unique opportunity to show off the caterer and provide a much nicer meal than breakfast or lunch. The decision is harder for dinner because you can do a plated dinner, a buffet or you can offer passed items. You can also do a combination of passed items before and a plated or buffet dinner.

The type of event will often dictate the type of dinner. If it’s a casual convention, a buffet dinner may be just fine. However, if your guests are paying a high price and dressing up, it’s likely they expect a sit-down plated dinner.

Make sure the food you choose for your convention matches the theme and the amount of time your guests will have to eat. In addition, it should also fit into your budget. If you’re unsure of the right direction, speak with your caterer. They will be able to guide you based on the number of attendees, the theme, and your budget.