Yup. The holidays are coming. We bet you’ve gone into your favourite big box or department store in the last few weeks and witnessed rows of Halloween costumes, candy, and jack-o-lanterns on one side of the aisle and Christmas decorations and goodies on the other. After all, there’s only a few months left to plan for the latter while Halloween is practically here!

So, if you’re the type that makes a big deal about the December holidays, you’re probably starting to formulate plans – at least in your head – for fun get-togethers for friends and family members. It’s never too early to give some preliminary thought to what kind of party (or parties) you’d like to host this coming holiday season, and – of course – food is a huge part of any Christmas party, so the details of what you’ll serve should be given priority as far as planning is concerned.

Many party throwers are proud of the fact that they can do it ALL by themselves. Decorate, cook, plan activities. It’s a one-man-show for some happy party planners, but taking on all the tasks of a successful party can be taxing and stressful, especially at the holiday season when there’s simply so much to do.

But what are the alternatives? And how do you know if they’re right for your party?

To DIY or Not to DIY?

Why do party throwers often insist on doing it all themselves? Well, usually it’s a pride of accomplishment thing. It makes us proud to say we “did It all” with little or no help from others. Similarly, many hosts simply enjoy the tasks of cooking and baking, so they decide that they will plan an elaborate menu and start days before to get everything done before the first guest arrives.

Chances are we’ve all done this at some time or another AND chances are that we sat down when it was all finished and asked, “Why did I put myself through that?” Even those who like to cook recognize the difficulty of taking on the responsibility for all the party food as well as the other details of a well-executed holiday event.

Besides preserving our price of accomplishment, we often take on all this responsibility because we think someone else can’t do it as well as we do. We’re afraid that menus from party caterers will lack the originality we seek when putting together our own creations. We have specific plans in mind that we don’t think a caterer will want to tackle.

Truth is, however, that most catering businesses – at least, the good ones – are more than eager to sit down with you and plan a menu that matches your vision. As a matter of fact, chefs love a challenge and would be absolutely fine brain-storming with you to craft a holiday party that makes you proud to be the host.

If you take time to choose a quality caterer, you won’t get the dry chicken, the green beans almandine, the dinner roll, and the vanilla ice cream dessert that you’re normally offered at so many catered dinners. Far from it! When you choose to go with a party caterer that’s flexible and creative rather than succumb to the do-it-yourself option, you’ll still have plenty of choices.

So Where Do We Start?

It’s likely that you already have some ideas in mind for your party menu. That’s great! Maybe you’re thinking about an hors d’oeuvres party or perhaps a fancy sit-down dinner. Or maybe a large buffet is the ideal option for the huge gang you’re planning to invite to your soiree. Or perhaps you’re thinking about something else that you deem totally “out of the box.”

Having a definitive idea of what kind of menu you’re hoping to serve is the ideal place to start. You don’t need to have every detail planned, but an overall idea of which direction you’d like to proceed is essential before you start seeking a caterer for your party. Write down some details so that you can best convey your wishes as you meet with prospective caterers and bring those notes to your meetings.

When it’s time to start looking around for the perfect party chef, begin by searching the internet for catering businesses in your area and take a preliminary look at the kinds of events they offer. Do their sample menus show that they are pretty much stuck in a rut or do they demonstrate creativity and a willingness to be flexible? Does the company’s website copy include sentences such as “it’s your party and we want the food to be as unique as you” or “we strive to best compliment that special atmosphere that you are working to create”?

It’s sentences like those that indicate a prospective caterer is willing to listen to your wishes and isn’t stuck to a particular food style or menu.

Of course, it’s important to remember that you may need to be a little flexible as well. All of your ideas may not be suitable to party catering, especially with a large group, and a good caterer will tell you so and then help you figure out other options that will make you just as happy, resulting in a party full of joy and merriment.

And aren’t holiday parties all about joy? Oh, and food, of course!