Editor’s note: This is part two of a two-part series revealing how food can be used to create unique and memorable event experiences. You can see 9 Inspired Sweet Treat Ideas here.
Experiences. That’s the unicorn we event planners chase with each event we plan. We analyze every detail to ensure it is adding to the story we’re trying to tell in pursuit of creating a unique and memorable experience.
But which details can you get the most bang for your buck? The food, for starters! The bulk of most event budgets lies in food. Therefore, it makes sense to put extra effort into creative food offerings. This doesn’t need to increase your budget if you can get creative about how it is presented. Give your guests choices, engage them and cater to their individual tastes as much as you can. Let them explore.
Below are 12 inspired ideas to use food to connect people in a dynamic way.
🎨 Painting with Sauces
People like to personalize their meals. Why not make dressing salads, pastas and desserts fun? Instead of dispensing sauces with a ladle, what if you let people paint their own sauces onto plates? It’s like a delicious kindergarten art class!
🍔 Burger Bar
Burgers might be the most crowd-pleasing food ever invented. Start with a plethora of options for toppings and condiments, including veggie patties. No two will be the same.
🥗 Salad Bar
Salad might not elicit the unabashed joy of ice cream or burgers, but they’re pretty darned fan-friendly. If your salad bar has enough variety—think savory and sweet—you won’t leave anyone disappointed.
“The key here is personalization. Allowing attendees to customize their food to their specifications is a slam dunk recipe for a memorable event experience.”
🍞 Bruschetta Bar
This one is a little different, but no less tasty than anything mentioned so far. You can offer many variations of veggies, spreads, nuts and more. Bruschetta isn’t just for tomatoes anymore, folks.
🍖 BBQ Bar
Get a big crowd together, and a barbecue debate is almost sure to break out. Some prefer Carolina, others Kansas City, and don’t forget about Memphis…the list goes on. Fortunately, your BBQ bar can offer a variety of sauces to satisfy every palette.
🌮 Nacho Bar
Nachos are a tricky dish to perfect. The cheese to chip distribution has to be just right, with too little cheese a disappointment and too much making the nachos difficult to eat. Let guests make the nachos themselves and you put them in charge of their own destiny.
🍝 Pasta Bar
Alfredo, marinara, pesto … mmmmmmm. Everyone loves pasta, right? Don’t forget the cheese.
🥔 Mashed Potato Bar
Everyone loves mashed potatoes as well, but they don’t order them nearly as often. Offer bacon, sour cream, chives, cheese and some more unusual ingredients—tri-tip and peppers anyone? Your guests will be clamoring for more.
🌶️ Chili Bar
Chili is another one of those “fun with toppings” kinds of foods. As long as the basic chili is solid, your guests can add a flavor punch with cheese, sour cream, Fritos and more.
🥪 Sandwich Bar
This do-it-yourself station allows your guests to take the bland—say, ham and cheese—and add wow—flavored jams and craft pickles are popular additions—to their heart’s desire. It is also a budget-friendly lunch choice.
🥐 Biscuit Bar
Before you ask, this event attraction isn’t just for those in the South. Biscuits are delicious, as are the toppings ranging from cheese to honey. Just make sure the biscuits aren’t too crumbly, y’all.
Angela Skeen is a certified award-winning event professional, event blogger and the founder of Eventfully Angela LLC, a full-service event company that allows her to carry out her event nerd fantasies.