Catering for a large group of people is quite a challenge to take on, but planning some kind of big event might make it necessary.
If you're brave enough to take this task on, you can eliminate a lot of the stress by getting a catering service to take care of some or all of the work for you. However, if you're determined to go it alone, good luck to you! You'll need to have your plan together to make sure everything goes smoothly. Here are the suggested timescales for planning and executing finger-food catering for your event.
One to two months in advance:
Decide on your dishes
Make a final list of the things you'll be serving up. It's best to keep it simple, especially if you're doing this on your own, as you'll easily become overwhelmed. Make sure you include dishes for various diets and allergies, unless you're sure they're not applicable to any of your guests – there's no point making things more difficult if you don't need to.
Work out quantities
Get your final guest numbers by this point so you can calculate what you need to buy. Work out what will be needed to make enough food for all your guests, based on about a plateful of food each, then add 10 percent.
Do some shopping
To spread the cost and time needed, buy anything that will keep until the event. Put in orders for any food you can't get from the shops and don't forget containers for storing and transporting prepared dishes.
A week in advance:
Do some more shopping
At this point, you should be able to finish your shopping and get everything else you need. Leaving a week gives you more time if anything is out of stock.
Cook what you can
You might have some dishes that can be cooked early and refrigerated or frozen, which means less to do close to the big day.
Check you have everything
Now you've got the food sorted, check you have enough cutlery, crockery and glassware. If you're hiring it, you might be able to pick it up now; otherwise, confirm your order.
Two days in advance:
Prepare anything that will keep
In most cases, you'll be able to cook everything else now and store it safely. If there's more cooking to be done tomorrow, make sure your ingredients are easily accessible.
The day before:
Get any remaining cooking done as early in the day as possible to avoid panic.
Do last-minute checks
Check everything is still in place for the event, including transportation for you and the food, and all the serving equipment you need.