Looking to host but don’t know what costs to expect? Unfortunately, whether you are hosting an small evening meal or throwing a huge celebration, it’s very difficult to find out the average cost of catered dinner. With so many variables involved in the planning, catering prices change drastically from event to event. Our guide below will highlight key decisions involved in dinner catering, and will therefore help you get an idea of what to expect in terms of prices. Guests People attending your dinner are essentially your target audience, so the event needs to be catered to their needs as much as yours. Ensure that you know how many people you’re expecting at the event. Some catering services only agree to host if your headcount fits their minimum requirement, whereas others offer discounts for larger events. Get your guests to confirm their attendance far in advance, and use that opportunity to find out whether they have dietary requirements. Once you know what the requirements are, most catering services are more than happy to customize some of the dinner dishes. Some of these categories include: Vegan and vegetarian; Gluten-free; Dairy-intolerant; Halal or kosher. Almost all caterers will adjust the menu with no extra cost if you discuss these food restraints far enough in advance. Serving Style One of the most important decisions to make when planning a dinner is the serving style. If you are on a tight budget, there are many ways to serve the food. First of all, rather than having a formal sit-down meal, opt for finger foods and canapés. Canapés can cost anywhere between £5-12 per person, and other appetizers are priced between £6-15 per guest. If planned properly, the average price per head can total to approximately £18-20, including dessert and tea. You can also serve the dinner items buffet-style. Unless you are hosting a sophisticated event that requires full service, like a wedding or birthday party, multi-course dinners can cost you much more due to service fees alone. Specifically, on average, main dishes served to tables can cost between £15-40 per guest, whereas a dinner served as a buffet is priced at £10-30 per person. Prices also often vary depending on occasion. If you are hosting a corporate party, limit yourself to simple foods served at stationary stands. By skipping services that require waitstaff, you can host the event with delicious food on a very small catering budget. For example, ordering platters of mini sandwiches can cost as little as £5 per person; so, if you’re hosting an office lunch for a party of 50, the total fee will be £250. Other Expenses One of the biggest expenses of any event is alcohol. While some caterers include the price of drinks with their dinner packages, most provide food and service alone so you’d need to arrange alcoholic beverages separately. What many hosts do is ask their guests to bring a bottle of alcohol for the meal. The majority of venues allow this, and by eliminating alcohol costs you are saving yourself anywhere between £10-50 per person. If there will be children attending the dinner, make sure your caterer has a ‘kid’s menu’ option. If they prefer not to add a separate menu, request several dishes that are also suitable for kids, such as: Fried chicken and mashed potatoes/chips; Mini sandwiches; Fried battered fish; Barbecue chicken; Fish cakes with roasted potatoes. Depending on the occasion, dessert can be quite expensive, too. Avoid ordering a fancy cake and opt for a sweets station instead. With a heavily decorated cake, you could be looking at a price anywhere between £400 and £800; this is excluding setup price. Keep in mind that cutting up the cake for your guests would also require a lot of time and energy. Instead, a dessert buffet would cost you between £5-10 per person and give your guests a much bigger variety to choose from. Include dishes like cheesecake, muffins in different flavours, and brownies - we can guarantee your guests will not leave disappointed. Conclusion: Gather all guest-related information in advance for an accurate final headcount and dietary limitations. If you are on a tight budget, cater using self-serving stations or buffet-style. Consider other costs, including special kids’ meals, alcohol, and dessert.