Parties require the same event planning skills required to host any other type of group gathering. Depending on the size or complexity of your party, you may want to brush up on best practices or get a professional catering service for your next party.

When it comes to having a birthday party for yourself, a child, a parent, a grandparent, or even a friend, you know there will be lots of fun, games, socialization, and, of course, food. Planning such an event can be quite a daunting task, and you will undoubtedly want to be a part of all of the fun had.

However, there is a way to get the best of both worlds. Have your party at home, but have it catered. Your guests receive not only your own unique brand of hospitality plus delicious food prepared by experts, but you can put down your oven mitts and enjoy yourself, too.

To make the most of a caterer’s services and ensure that you’re party ready, here are some tips:

1. Start With the Basics

When you meet with the caterer, know the number of guests you’re expecting and have an idea of how much you want to spend. Be sure to mention if any of your guests have special requirements or allergies and make sure there will be something they can eat.

2. Evaluate Your Kitchen

Discuss the capacity of your kitchen. Do you have sufficient counter space for prep or should the caterer bring ingredients all ready to cook? Do you have enough burners on your stove and room in your refrigerator and oven? Maybe the caterer will have to bring extra equipment or do some of the cooking beforehand. If you’re having a really big party, is there additional space where the caterer can set up a satellite kitchen?

3. Get the Extras

Know if you’ll need to rent extra tables and chairs, linens, dishes, glassware, or serving pieces. Some caterers can supply these items and others will coordinate rentals for you with an outside vendor.

4. Think About the Servers

Talk about what level of service you’d like, and how many servers it will require. Find out what standard wait staff attire is, and whether they can customize it for you or wear something you provide. As long as what you’re suggesting is in good taste and won’t interfere with the job they have to do, they should be able to accommodate your request.

5. Establish Expectations

In general, what elements of the party will the caterer be responsible for and what elements will be your responsibility? Will staff arrange tables and place settings? Will they refill wine glasses and coffee cups? Will they clean up around the place as the party progresses? If you’d like special services of any kind, be sure to discuss them; don’t take anything for granted.

6. What About the Bar?

Talk about what the caterer can provide and what it might be more cost-effective for you to buy yourself. Will a bartender be part of the wait staff or will the bar be self-serve? Find out if the caterer will bring ice or if you should have it on hand.

7. Talk About Timing

What time will the caterer arrive and what time will the servers arrive? What time must the food be ready and what’s the plan for serving it? How long will it take for the caterer to clean up, pack up, and leave? What happens if your guests are having such a good time that the party runs over your expected end time?

8. Costs and Payment

Of course you’ll find out about costs, tips, payment due dates, and when the caterer needs your final head count, but you also want to know what forms of payment are acceptable. Now all you’ve got to do is invite your guests, straighten up a bit, and prepare to have a great time at your own party.

For catering services for a premium experience, check Supper Club YVR to have your next party catered.