HOW TO SERVE FOOD AT A COCKTAIL PARTY
A COCKTAIL party is a unique venue for a caterer. Some people think it's easier than a sit-down dinner because it's less structured. However, there are a lot of moving parts to a COCKTAIL party, and just serving the food requires thought and careful planning.
Flow with the traffic. Where and how the food is served at a COCKTAIL party has a huge effect on traffic flow. Party-goers will begin at the bar and then gravitate toward the food. You need to keep the food moving in order to avoid a bottleneck in tight places or a crowding on one side of the room that will inhibit conversation.
Move the food. Butler service is ideal for a COCKTAIL party as long as you have enough staff. You need two or three people circulating with food and napkins on small trays. Instruct your catering staff to keep the trays moving and avoid the entrance and bar areas. The other way to keep food moving is to put it out on small trays throughout the party space. When you replenish a tray, move it to a new location.
Incorporate the "wow" factor. A COCKTAIL party gives a caterer a unique opportunity to create stunning food because presentation is of major importance. In some cases, the food becomes part of the decoration for the party. If the party is very large, be sure to include an impressive display of cheeses, for example. Using large amounts of food and a very attractive setting create a focal point in the room.
Run the show. If you're serving food at a COCKTAIL party, you're the director of an intricate production. The caterer should plan and orchestrate the show in advance, considering the size and shape of the space and the number of people expected. You're then responsible to make sure everyone follows your direction.