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How Do I Choose a Caterer for Graduation Parties?

There are probably a lot of caterers operating in your area, and when it comes time to choose one for your event, the process can be much more difficult than it looks. When you’re a guest at someone else’s graduation party, for example, there’s no pressure on you. In fact, the host wants you to feel comfortable and well looked-after. Your job is to relax and have a good time. If the food or catering services leaves a little something to be desired, it’s no skin off your back. You might develop a negative impression about the catering company or even the party organizers, but it certainly doesn’t reflect negatively on you.

But then you find yourself in the hot seat. Your son or daughter or loved one earns a diploma or a degree, and it’s time to organize a party on their behalf. Suddenly, you are the one responsible for making sure that others feel comfortable and have a positive experience. Some of the people attending have probably even hosted their own graduation parties, which you have attended.

So now you’re searching online and talking to friends about local catering outfits. You’ve briefly considering providing the food yourself, but this would leave you no time to mingle and talk to guests. You’ve decided that a professional solution is the right one — but you really don’t know which direction to go.

How do you decide on a caterer for that upcoming graduation party?

The first (and most important) thing is to take a deep breath and relax. There are plenty of people who have been through this before, and they experienced everything you’re experiencing now. People tend to focus on “what ifs” and negative possibilities, rather than focusing on what could go right. It’s important to believe that your graduation party will be a great success and that your guests will be impressed.

But making this a reality begins with the caterer you choose.

Step one is to narrow the list by reputation. In other words, look for catering companies who have many “strikes” against them — in the form of complaints, negative reviews, and low average ratings. Eliminate these from the list.

Now it’s time to dig a little deeper. Does the company have a vibrant, highly organized web site? Do they have high review averages and plenty of personal feedback from people who actually hired them? When you make contact with a company, do they respond quickly and cordially? Or do they seem too busy to answer your questions? Can they provide you with additional references to past clients if you’re unable to find much information online?

Once you’ve got your list down to a few quality candidates, it’s decision time. Look at things like menu options, pricing structures, catering ideas, and overall personality. You want to be comfortable with the people who cater this graduation party. You want everyone to be in a good, positive mindset throughout the event. Once you’ve found a catering company that checks all the “practical” boxes — but also has that “intangible” quality of someone you really feel good about working with, you’ve found your caterer. Keep your communication open, work together to get things right, and enjoy the party!