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The Catering Checklist for Events

Catering is vitally important for the health of most events. Good food brings people together, and caterers offer ready-made food for guests to enjoy. It’s not enough to just cater an event though, it needs to be catered exceptionally well. That means planning prep for the big event in detail. Consider the steps that must be completed and write them down. Assign jobs to specific team members. Plan everything out with time to spare, so completing the event with success is easy. One of the best ways to start your planning is by looking at a checklist for catering an event. Think of it as your basic inventory plan, and check off each item before leaving your kitchen on the big day.

The Table Settings

As a caterer, it’s vital that you have all the necessary table settings. The checklist considers both decorative and functional elements. With the right tools and equipment, the event will look stunning and guests will have all they need to eat. Here’s a breakdown of the most important table settings to have on your checklist for an event.

  • Salad plates
  • Dinner plates
  • Bread plates
  • Tablecloths
  • Fabric or paper napkins
  • Centerpieces
  • Wine glasses
  • Water glasses
  • Sugar holders
  • Salt and pepper shakers

Equipment for Serving

Unless the event is going to be buffet-style, a good set of serving equipment is essential. The right gear makes it easy distributing food and drinks to the guests of the event. Try to achieve a balance of classy looking and sturdy items for best results.

  • Bus bins – the plastic tubs that hold dirty dishes and food after people have finished eating. Get several of these.
  • Serving trays – Trays are necessary for serving all the food, unless the event is to be buffet style.
  • Water pitchers- Try for durable pitchers that look nice as well. Have enough to keep at least half the servers stocked during the event, because refilling water is a major component of any event.

Equipment for a Buffet

If the event is to be buffet-style, you’ll have a different catering event checklist to consider. It will include all the items to set up, operate and remove a buffet quickly. Here’s a standard catering buffet checklist.

  • Tongs – For salads or other difficult to scoop items.
  • Chafing dishes – To keep food warm throughout the event
  • Fuel – To power the chafing dishes
  • Matches or lighter – To start the dish heaters
  • Plates – Go with sturdy and uniform plates
  • Serving baskets – To hold fruit, bread and other objects
  • Rolled silverware – Packed into neat bundles for easy grabbing or passing out
  • Cutting boards – Used for cutting meats
  • Cutting knives – To slice up meat
  • Cutting boards – To hold meats for slicing
  • Spatulas
  • Dish cloths – To wipe up inevitable spills

This banquet setup checklist covers all of the most common items required during buffet-style events, but it’s a good idea to think of more specific needs and add them on as well. Try and build up the list entirely before the big day of the event so you’ll be prepared.

Beverage Bar Checklist

A coffee or beverage station is an efficient way to handle drinks for an event, but it must be stocked properly. Here’s a simple catering kitchen equipment list for a beverage bar.

  • Glasses – For water and soft drinks
  • Pitchers – Filled with water and ice
  • Coffee cups
  • Ice tubs – To hold canned soda or other drinks in containers
  • Straws
  • Baskets – To hold teas, hot cocoas, sugar and creamer packs
  • Garbage can – To hold all the wrappers and other drink garbage
  • Napkins – For spills or to wrap around hot drinks

By following this food and beverage checklist, your team will have everything needed to keep guests from being thirsty.

Preparing for Off-Site Catering

A good catering equipment checklist is even more important when completing an off-sites project. There are less supplies available, and failure to bring the right items could ruin an event. Look over this catering set up checklist closely before each major event just to be sure.

  • Aluminum foil – To cover and protect food items during transportation.
  • Hand sanitizer – For keeping hands clean throughout
  • Garbage bags- To keep dirty napkins and rags in
  • Insulated containers – Keep food hot or cold by keeping it insulated during transit.
  • Water jugs – For when no water is available on site
  • Disposable food containers – For storing all the food for the event
  • Additional bus tubs – To hold all the dirty dishes to be washed late


No matter what type of event you’re catering, it’s important to have a checklist to rely on. Hopefully, the banquet equipment inventory list and the other checklists help make planning for the next event easier. It’s also a good idea to include a catering food checklist, but that’s something you’ll have to make up for each event. Focus on detail when planning and always give yourself more time than you’ll need to avoid rushed mistakes. Get started to automate your event checklist.

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Don't sell products, solve the pains. Remember stories matter. Every story matters.I am an event tech lover with the experience in the digital marketing field: digital strategy, integrated digital campaigns and phygital projects, SMM, website development, SEO, content marketing, online PR, etc.My pleasure to work in the fast-growing event industry and bring new event tech solutions to the World.

Latest comments

  • Without catering every event or occasion is incomplete. Every person requires a good food when he or she visits there and for this good catering is essential. Thanks for the blog post.

  • I totally like that you reminded us to ensure that there will be available water jugs should no water is available on site of the event. My sister’s birthday is going to be celebrated on a beach set up. It’s important for us to help her prepare the needed things for the event. It’s essential for us that there will be enough drinking water supplies for the guests of the party. For me, purchasing water containers is going to be a great option to make sure that we’ll not run out of drinking water. I will make sure to consider buying water containers.

  • Can you please share more catering ideas for events? I just like your event planning.

  • You have shared a very helpful blog as it contains best information regarding catering and buffets. It would be very helpful for all. Thanks for sharing. Keep it up.

  • Wow!! Great writing. Yes, these are the requirement for the setup. Really helpful for those who just entered this field. Liked the bullet point part of the buffet point. Thanks for sharing!!

  • My siblings and I are planning a huge birthday party for our mom, and as we’re bringing in all of her grandkids as well, we’re planning to have a catering service take care of the food and we appreciate your tips for what to ensure we have ready. You’re definitely right that having the right gear adds an element of class to an event, like the bus bins and serving trays you described, and I’ll be sure to talk to the catering service and see if they provide those or if we should rent our own. Of course, the beverages will be a major part of the meal, as well, and I think that having it set up as a beverage station is a pretty great idea.

  • You got me when you said that it’s beneficial to have serving equipment that you can use to make sure that it will be easy to distribute drinks and food to your guests. With that in mind, I’ll be sure to hire a catering company instead. My husband and I are planning to have a party to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We want to make sure that we won’t need to worry about what food to serve to ensure the satisfaction of our party guests.

  • Thanks for sharing. Nice catering services from start to end especially for the wedding by 7XYUM. he event will run smoothly on time and within budget

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