Serving Hors d’oeuvre – A Brief Guide for Catering Options

Think back to the last wedding you went to — what do you remember most about the cocktail hour? It’s more than likely the one or two hors d’oeuvres served that you reached for every time they came around. Having a memorable cocktail party comes down to the bite-sized food you have, and choosing what you have served before the meal can make or break the party. 

For many food lovers, the appetizer is one of the most exciting moments of a meal. It’s the meal before the meal, the starter, the pre-taster. Light fares in the catering world are ideal for serving guests, whether for a small bite to eat or to hold hunger over until the main course is served.

But, providing a large crowd with enough food to eat can prove challenging. When considering hors d’oeuvres into the mix, the food planning strategy can get a little complicated. Hot or cold? Do you rent a food truck or other finger food? The different types of hors d’oeuvres at your disposal can be staggering. But that’s why we’re here – to guide you down the path to deliciousness.

Should You Serve Hors d’oeuvres at Your Event?

This is a question that many event planners may ponder, looking to gain the answer from the advice of others. It’s really up to you and how you want the experience of your event to be. Appetizers are great for greeting arriving guests who are anticipating your soiree. As soon as they walk in, they’ll see the appetizers and immediately feel welcome and at ease.

Some party hosts will serve appetizers throughout their entire event and leave out the main course. However, if you are interested in doing this, we recommend serving heavy appetizers so that guests feel full. You don’t want your guests to die of hunger at your festivity!

What Kind of Event Are You Hosting?

For many party planners, the type of event they’re planning plays a significant role in deciding what kind of food they want to serve, including the types of hors d’oeuvres. Weddings usually have a variety of hors d’oeuvres dishes served to guests throughout the cocktail hour to keep them entertained while the wedding party does its thing.

Budgeting Appetizers

The thing about appetizers is, while it is an extra small dish, it doesn’t have to be expensive. You can come up with a light fare that is as equally creative as it is inexpensive. If you are hiring a caterer (like us!), the hors d’oeuvres can be included as part of a party package to accommodate your budget. Don’t be afraid to express your concerns to your catering partner – they will provide you with the best options to meet your needs.

Which is Better: An Appetizer Buffet or an Appetizer Hand-Out?

The tricky thing about serving appetizers is determining how exactly they should be served. The two most common styles consist of buffet and hand-out styles. With the buffet style, you have stations throughout the venue that feature hor d’oeuvre selections on a come-as-you-wish basis. You come up to the buffet, grab what you want, and be on your merry way. 

The second option has become a popular option for weddings to keep the flow of traffic moving and avoid potential bottlenecks — appetizer hand-outs. You’ll have a trained staff walking through the crowd, handing out the different hors d’oeuvres to eagerly awaiting guests and keeping the guests happy. Each option offers hosts unique ways to keep the guests engaged and satisfied throughout the event. 

When it comes to this obstacle, we’ve got you covered with our on-site and off-site catering in Philly. While we’ve provided hors d’oeuvres by the buffet, spread, and hand-outs, we’ve found that different techniques work for different occasions. When serving appetizers, you have to ensure every guest gets a chance to eat them since some guests will eat the food more or faster than others.

Event Size Plays a Big Role

Keep in mind the size of your event; small gatherings may benefit better from a spread or buffet, while larger occasions may benefit more from hand-outs. Another thing to consider is whether your guests will be seated or mingling. With a buffet, the guests can grab the appetizer and bring it back to their seat, but if they are mingling (like the cocktail hour), guests can grab the treats from the servers passing by.

The food you serve at your wedding, birthday party, office picnic, or fundraiser will be a crucial detail your guests will remember – and most likely rave about later. Satisfy their taste buds with a mouthwatering collection of appetizers they’ll love with help from our top-of-the-line wedding and corporate catering services in Philly!