How to Make the Holidays More Affordable
Tips from an anonymous caterer
Besides asking friends for recommendations, the best way to find a caterer is to go to a cooking store, like Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table, and speak to the employees running the demonstrations. Many of them do catering gigs as well, for less than standard local rates. An independent caterer will often be more wallet-friendly than a large company, which can have high minimum requirements (as much as $2,500 per event) and more operating costs, like paying full-time staffers. In contrast, independents are usually amenable to negotiation. So ask for a 10 to 20 percent break, or see if they’ll toss in a few more appetizers or another entrée for the same dollar amount.
If you’re having a dinner party, opt for a buffet. Sit-down dinners are more labor-intensive and therefore expensive, as they usually involve multiple courses and preplating. Or host a brunch—it’s up to 40 percent cheaper than dinner, since foods like French toast and crepes are generally low-cost. Or think about throwing a party where you serve just appetizer-type bites and sweets. You’ll save at least 30 percent on the overall bill by skipping the entrée altogether (and your guests will be just as happy).