Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How To: Plan a Menu for an Event

As an advocate and communicator you're bound to be involved in planning events. If there is one attraction that will almost guarantee attendance at an event, it's food. Especially free food! However, diverse dietary needs have to be considered when planning a menu for an event. Before you begin to plan your menu, think about the audience you are trying to attract. Understanding your audience will help you prepare a menu according to their likely preferences. In terms of food options:
  • Always have a vegetarian option

  • Think about common food allergies and be sure to have at least one appropriate selection. For example, there should be an item that does not contain nuts.

  • Consider whether there will be any religious or ethnic dietary requirements
To plan an appropriate menu, think about the type of event you are hosting. Is it a sit-down event that would be complemented by dinner? Is it a networking event where hors d' oeuvres would make more sense? Are you attracting an older more professional crowd that would be pleased with more sophisticated options? Or is it an event for students, who may be happy with cookies or cheese and crackers?

If you are planning a more formal event, like a sit-down dinner, inquire about guest’s dietary restrictions when they RSVP so that you may plan in advance if someone has particular allergies, is diabetic, vegetarian, or has any other specific requests.

The biggest thing to remember in planning a menu though is that the food is going to be a part of your event. Doughnuts and pastries aren't the best breakfast menu for a conference on obesity and a three course meal preceding a lecture on poverty is probably not a good plan. Keep your event theme and your guests in mind, and you should have an excellent menu for whatever you're planning.

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