Outdoor catering can be a lot of fun with these 8 simple steps

Covid-19 may have turned your dinner party into a backyard soiree – but is that such a bad thing? Think about it; there’s scenery (yep, that view of your above-ground pool counts), fresh air, and room to roam. Events with outdoor catering are just as fun, if not more so than indoor ones.

Whether you’re hosting a small brunch with close family, a reunion with your college buds, or an office meeting, a catered outdoor event has many advantages. They also come with a few challenges to keep you on your toes.  Don’t sweat it, though, because those challenges don’t have to derail your event. With the proper considerations and some extra-delicious catering, you can have the best outdoor gathering ever.

Here are some tips and tricks for planning a fantastic outdoor event with catering. Remember, we’re talking about a good time here, so the only limit is your imagination and your venue’s space.

Map out the setting for your outdoor catering ahead of time

Get to know your venue at least a week before your event. If you’re renting an outdoor space, ask if you can tour it and take photos and videos. Even if you’re using your backyard or public space (like a park), give it a walk-through. Please take note of how many guests it will comfortably hold, where seating should go, and any unique challenges, like a hill or a marshy area you don’t want to get close to.

Prepare for unexpected weather

If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where it’s sunny and clear most of the year, it still pays to look at the weather report often before your event. Even if the forecast is the literal definition of paradise, your guests will be grateful if you’re prepared for heat, cold, wind, and precipitation.

What does that mean for an outdoor event with catering? A few things: you’ll want to provide shade, heat generators, and, if possible, a backup venue in case it rains.

Have layers for guests

If you’re hosting an outdoor event that starts during daylight and goes until after dark, you should expect a dip in temperature. Guests may not think to bring jackets or coats, especially those who don’t want to cover up a well-coordinated outfit!

That’s where you come in. Have blankets or other layers available for the evening. A few well-placed blankets can add a thoughtful touch and a cozy vibe to a party under the stars.

Don’t bug out

Nothing takes the fun out of an outdoor event quite like everyone’s least favorite uninvited guest: mosquitoes and other bugs. Anticipate and ward off these creepy-crawlers and winged menaces beforehand. Stock up on citronella candles and be prepared to dole out bug spray to those who want it. Side note: while you’re at it, you might as well buy a few bottles of sunscreen too.

If you’ve got access to a garden, you can even plant some lavender or rosemary ahead of time (or bring the herbs out in potted containers). These plants are natural insect repellents!

Don’t leave your guests in the dark during your outdoor catering event

Use a weather app to see when the sun sets on the day of your event.  This is crucial information to have when planning an event. If your gathering takes place at least partially after dark, you’re going to want to have adequate lighting.

If you’re renting a venue, ask about after-dark lighting options. If you’re using your own space, consider hanging string lights to set a festive mood or set out candles for a fancier feel (battery-operated ones are a-okay if you’re not into open flames). Double-check any existing outdoor lighting to make sure it’s functional and suitable to your event’s layout.

Keep in mind that pivoting from an indoor to an outdoor event may be easier if you adjust your gathering time. Switching to a daytime picnic instead of a sit-down dinner, for example, will allow you to maximize daylight without sacrificing a good time.

Remind guests about their footwear

What does the ground look like in your event space? If it’s concrete or gravel, take note of that. If you’re dealing with grass or sand, you may want to pass that information to guests. This is an excellent opportunity to communicate the dress code.

Guests may assume that an event will be more formal than it is and wear high heels that get stuck in the soft ground. You want your guests to be comfortable, so make them aware of the setting and suggest a dress code that suits the environment.

Consider a theme for your event

An outdoor event with catering is the perfect opportunity for you to have that fun theme party you’ve always wanted to throw. From garden parties to country hoedowns, the options are endless.

Select an outdoor catering menu and caterer that fits the vibe

Your menu should fit the tone of your outdoor event, just like your theme and dress code. Take into consideration the seating arrangements, what people will be wearing, the weather, and of course, what you and your guests want to eat.  

TooJay’s is one of the original catering services, in business for 40 years. Our food is hand-crafted, always fresh, and customized to your liking. We do full-service or simple drop-off catering.

Contact a TooJay’s Catering expert to talk about your catering needs for your next event.

Founded in 1981, TooJay’s has catered over Half-a-Million events across the state of Florida. We are currently serving guests in Palm Beach and Broward counties, the Treasure Coast, the Orlando area, and The Villages.