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Ideas for Cheap Company Party Catering

Updated on September 23, 2012
A festive and elegant company party does not have to be expensive.
A festive and elegant company party does not have to be expensive. | Source

A Company Party

A company party is a great way to reward your employees for their loyalty and hard work. It makes them feel valued and improves morale. It lets them see each other in a different setting, and helps them bond with each other and with management. It builds good will and loyalty which may, in turn, encourage them be more productive for you.

However, parties can cost a lot of money, and you have a budget to balance and financial goals to meet. How can you reward your employees and do it inexpensively?

Cheap Party Locations

The location is one of the biggest expenses in a company party, so it is important to choose the location wisely. If you can save money on the place of the party, you will have more money available for the food. You want a location that is beautiful as it currently is, requiring very little decorating, with plenty of parking and bathrooms.

When shopping around for locations, be sure to compare them equally with each other. Some locations will provide tables and chairs, while others will rent them separately. Some will offer catering services while others will not. Some outdoor venues will need canopies in case of rain, while others will have shelters. Check the total price of each option to make sure you are making the best choice possible.

To save money, you can consider an outdoor picnic at a park, or find a way to decorate available space in your own office building. You may find that other options are not that pricy. There are many different venues you may not have considered. Be creative - you may find space in a church, a school, a hotel, or a restaurant. By being open to the possibilities of the different places, you may find a location that is just right for your big event.

Seasonal fruit and vegetable are inexpensive yet very tasty.
Seasonal fruit and vegetable are inexpensive yet very tasty. | Source


You can save some money by limiting the party to employees only, but this may build up some resentment. People would like to introduce their loved ones to the coworkers they see every day, and the loved ones would like to meet the coworkers they feel they know from the stories they have heard.

You can save money on invitations by printing them on the beautiful stationery that is available on the market today and using the company printer. A fancy invitation sets the tone for the party, and shows them that this is not just another boring meeting that is announced by e-mail or company memo.

Be sure to provide easy ways for the employees to RSVP. Since most caterers charge by the person, the best way to save money is to keep an accurate count of the number of people that are coming, so that you are not paying for more food than you will need.

Catered Food for a Company Party

While you could have a potluck or bring food from the grocery store for a barbecue, a company party will be best received with food that is catered. There are many ways to save money on catering:

  • Compare prices of different caterers. Some may be willing to give you a discount because they are new, or offer a quantity discount because of the number of guests. Some may also have resources that are not available to others, such as a relative who is a farmer.
  • Order food with ingredients that are in season and readily available. Not only will they cost less, they will also taste better.
  • A buffet will save money since there will be fewer staff required to serve your employees and guests. Your guests will be able to choose from a variety of options, and will be less likely to waste food, since they will not pick up items they know they do not like.
  • Taste the food before ordering in huge quantities. You don't want to waste money on food that will be thrown away.
  • Talk to the caterer about the different food options. They will be able to tell you what is in season and what they can obtain inexpensively.
  • A sit down dinner can be made less expensive by limiting the number of food choices the guests have. You can have offer a fish plate, a chicken plate, and a vegetarian plate, for example, and keep most of the meal the same. This will keep the food simple for the caterer and avoid waste.
  • You can limit food choices even further by only offering one meal - chicken or a vegetarian dish, for example. Make sure it tastes very good and has ingredients that are popular. Then, you only have to provide something else for people who have indicted an allergy or other issue that prevents them from eating that dish.
  • Skip the fancy food. Your finicky guests may not like them and will not appreciate the expense. Offer great tasting foods that your guests recognize and is presented in an attractive manner.
  • You may be able to provide some items yourself, and avoid paying the caterer to bring them. Things like drinks or a fruit tray can easily be bought from a grocery store without much effort on your part, and can save you money.

Make the party festive with decorations and table settings.
Make the party festive with decorations and table settings. | Source

Additional Tips to Save Money on Your Company Party

  • Have the party during lunch time or in the afternoon to make it more casual. Your guests will not expect a fancy meal, so they won't think you are being cheap when you don't provide it.
  • Consider a less expensive theme for the party. An elegant black tie dinner will cost more than an outdoor picnic. Sports night, Hawaiian Luau, Indian vegetarian, Mexican, Soul food, gourmet burger bar, make your own pizza, and 70's, 80's or 90's nostalgia are all themes that have a more casual feel and will let you get away with serving cheaper foods.
  • Make sure you spend the time and money to set up the location with decorations and table settings. The ambiance of the room will set the tone for the whole party.
  • Have table decorations that double as gifts for your guests.
  • You can have your guests bring a dessert to share, or maybe have a contest for a dish that fits the theme of the party. Some people really like to cook, and may enjoy the chance to show off their culinary skills.
  • Be sure to consider the needs of your guests. Some may have religious or dietary restrictions or allergies that keep them from eating certain foods. Not only will you avoid waste if you heed these, you will also garner good will. They will likely enjoy the party more if there is food available to them that they can eat. Also, if you give someone something he is allergic to, the party may be ruined if he gets sick or you have to call the ambulance.
  • A cash bar will allow your guests to imbibe in their favorite beverages without breaking your budget. This may also limit how many drinks the guests drink, which may help keep the party from getting out of control, and keep people from drinking and driving.
  • Combine the party with an awards ceremony. This will keep your entertainment costs down, and you will be able to show your employees your appreciation for their work.
  • Consider paper certificates (on fancy paper) to make sure every employee feels honored, and raffle off bigger prizes instead of cheap trinkets that they will throw away as soon as they get home.

Hosting an Inexpensive but Classy Company Party

A company party does not have to be expensive. You can show your employees that you are a generous and gracious host, and appreciate their hard work, without breaking the budget. By taking the time to choose a catering company well and make sure that you work with them on the food choices, you will be able to make sure that your guests have a great time.

Comments: "Ideas for Cheap Company Party Catering"

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    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Vespa. What can I say, I like to eat! Getting on the food committee helps me make sure there are lots of goodies for me!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      Wow, this sounds like a great idea for all our buddies on HP! : ) I can see you have a lot of experience in this area. This is a great list of considerations and will definitely help anyone planning a company party. Thanks so much! Voted up and across the board.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Aurelio. Actually, every company I have ever worked for has delegated the party planning to a party committee, but they have been given a budget so they could hire a caterer or order the pizza. Thanks for your input.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Excellent alternative but one cheap suggestion, made only with slight tongue-in-cheek, is to get your employees to do it through a party committee. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you Ruchira. I think potluck dinners can work wonderfully for startups and small companies. A large corporation though may make people feel resentful that they are being cheapskates. Our office had a potluck that turned out wonderful as well, but our office also provides pizza from time to time so we didn't think of it as a cheap move.

      Thanks Dianna, serving food of other cultures helps because people don't focus on the cost as much as they do the flavor. Also these cultures are known for less expensive foods, although you do have to watch it since they often have labor intensive foods that will cost you a lot if you have to pay someone to make them.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Your suggestions are very useful in keeping the budget to a minimum in spending. Love the different ethnic food suggestions, it is always nice to serve something different - it makes things interesting.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      Great tips, Shasta.

      I used to work in a start up company and since funding was not supposed to be used for fun and frolic. My HR used to design such friendly and fun parties where we all participated by bring in a dish of our region. There were many ethnic background people working such as chinese, mexican, italians, indians, germans. It was a fun evening and memorable one!

      voted up as awesome hub with interesting tips.