An appetite for inspiration
“People eat with their eyes,” says Lindy van Jaarsveld, who is launching her events organising and catering company later this month.
It’s with that in mind that she’s introducing trendy catering to Grahamstown’s lifestyle and corporate events mix. “Think Cape Town!” she says.
Lindy has eight years’ experience in the field, having recently served as Rhodes University’s Functions Manager, focusing on events and conferencing.
But what if you’ve been asked to organise the office party and you’ve never done it before?
“Anyone can download an ABC checklist off the internet,” Lindy says. “That’s where you start if you want to put together something good.”
It took Lindy a few years and bumping her head a few times before she ended up with the checklist that works for her. And that is the first secret to the success of an event.
“You must think of absolutely everything,” Lindy says. “You have to get down to the nitty gritty – right down to whether you need to change the lightbulbs, and when and how your guests will arrive.”
Lindy uses Pinterest for inspiration.
“You need to think what will set your event apart. Pinterest shares some awesome ideas for events that people will talk about for months afterwards.”
Entertainment isn’t essential, but it does mean guests are kept occupied.
“As an organiser you don’t have to stress about awkward silences and you can get on with other things.”
Of course, you need to make sure the style of music is appropriate for the event you’re hosting.
In South Africa, diversity is a given in most gatherings.
“There are 11 official languages in South Africa, apart from anything else,” Lindy says. “Plus Grahamstown enjoys a high proportion of people from other countries, particularly in the academic community. Diversity is a huge part of good planning.”
PLANNING FOR DIVERSE GUESTS
* Get the guest list ahead of time, and interact with guests about their special needs
* Don’t believe the RSVP list – “People don’t RSVP!” – so be a step ahead and have Halaal, vegetarian and other culturally specific food on standby.
LINDY’S TOP TIPS
* Always be one step ahead with your event. You never want to be caught off-guard – always rather be over-prepared than under-prepared.
* Have good wine – and don’t forget a corkscrew!
South Africans! They’re the easiest, and the most welcoming and appreciative!
Me faceplanting in front of about 100 people as I came down some stairs at a very prestigious function. It’s the kind of moment you really don’t want to relive…!
Lindy van Jaarsveld’s new business, Cibo: feed your guests – corporate & lifestyle events, opens at 77B Beaufort Street (on the corner of Hill Street) on 15 November. She plans to first launch the catering service, then team up with a local décor company “to bring something more trendy to Grahamstown”.
She’s happy for potential clients ot pop in and see how and where they’re working.
For the person hiring the musicians there is only one principle involved: musicians must be treated the same as any other professionals involved in the event. – Gareth Walwyn, Access Music Project and Amahle band member
A zest for a good party!
Cheryl and Adrian ‘Naartjie’ Moss have been organising and catering for events for just over two decades and have a foolproof plan to share for someone tasked with organising a function from ground zero.
CHERYL AND NAARTJIE’S CHECKLIST
1. Set up a committee to co-ordinate venue hire, catering, décor, rental of items, DJ, photographer, gifts, etc.
2. Set a date for the function that suits most of the people who need to be involved.
3. Establish the budget for the event.
4. Delegate various committee members to get quotes on each item.
5. Book and confirm all the venue, personnel and equipment you need early so you’re not left disappointed or frustrated!
6. The venue:
* Contact venues right at the beginning of your planning to get prices. It’s important choose a venue best suited to creating the ambience you want. If it’s a work function, it’s a good idea to choose a venue away from the workplace so everyone can relax and enjoy a social evening.
* Make sure the venue you choose can accommodate the number of guests you’re inviting.
* Find out from the venues what is included in the hire. There may be additional items you need to hire, such as tables, chairs, linen, décor, lighting, draping, music etc.
* Find out if the venue allows for outside catering or if it includes a catering and bar service.
* Set up a meeting with the venue manager and ask them to provide you with the menu details and pricings. Take this back to your organising committee to make sure everyone is happy with the chosen menu. To save disagreement later, this should be done with every quote received for every item – take it to the committee to make sure you’re on the right track.
It’s a good idea to include a shuttle service so partygoers don’t have to drive home after the event.
For an Eastern Cape crowd, what are the perennial winners when it comes to catering?
A wholesome meal, well cooked and well presented.
How do you accommodate culturally diverse groups when it comes to catering?
Tailor-make the menu best suited to the occasion by meeting with clients beforehand to discuss their needs.
What is the moment you’d most like to forget?
When there’s a power failure and you have to delay the function – but that shouldn’t happen often with a good backup plan in place!
CHERYL AND NAARTJIE’S BIG TIP
Make it a fun and inclusive event for your organisation by involving as many people as possible in organising and setting up the event. That way, it will be a more memorable occasion for everyone!
BASIC EVENT CHECKLIST
* What is the purpose of the event?
* How many guests will you invite?
* What is your budget?
* Where do you want to hold your event?
* Will you need to provide transport?
* Do you need entertainment?
* Will there be food?
* Will you provide accommodation?
* Do you have any special requirements?
MAKE YOUR LIST
Theme; venue; invitations; handling responses; tickets; maps; the venue plan; design; signage; itinerary; site survey; brand awareness; decoration; utilities; light; sound; furniture; heating; backdrops; catering; toilet facilities; transport; litter management; generator; entertainers; photographer; compere; security; health and safety; stewards; waiters; gifts; prizes.
Checklist source: The Guardian