11 Essential Items of Holiday Catering: Plan The Perfect Holiday Office Party

plastic party trays

Photo Source: Ehow

Plastic Trays

Plastic trays are strong and durable. When serving heavier foods such as meats and sandwiches, they are the preferred choice.  Many of the popular plastic tray options are black allowing your delectables to stand out. Plastic party trays are also available with clear plastic lids that provide a clear view of the dish, protection from the weather and easier transport.

Foil Trays

Foil trays are an economical option depending on your catering needs. They are durable like plastic party trays but offer a metallic appearance as opposed to black or white plastic platters. The metallic appearance may aid in the winter themed party by adding a little zing that looks more festive but still saves your pockets. Foil trays also have optional plastic lids, perfect for protecting your dish but if you need to save a little more, plastic wrap will keep your food in place but we don’t recommend stacking the trays.

foil cardboard circlePhoto Source: D.S. Mee Bee

Cardboard Circles

Need to save a little more? Take a cardboard circle, cover it with aluminum foil, load it up with your foods and delicacies. Cover it with plastic and wah-lah, your dish will stay in place. You’re ready to go and at a fraction of the cost and your dish is beautifully displayed.  This is a popular method for deli catering when serving party trays.  


How will your guests dine on their foods?  If you use reusable flatware and the hosting facility is willing to wash everything, then we applaud you.  However, if you are looking for a faster grab and go, disposable cutlery, here are some popular options for you to consider:

Polystyrene Cutlery: Although polystyrene cutlery is heavier, it won’t snap in half like other plastic cutlery. It is also the more popular choice when it comes to color selection offering a wider array of colors beyond white and black.

Polypropylene Cutlery:  Now this is the stuff that bends.  Beginning with medium weight cutlery, this is the most economical choice when purchasing plastic cutlery in bulk.  Great for samples, smaller portions, or when budget is the biggest factor.  We wouldn’t recommend polypropylene cutlery for soups or other hot foods as the plastic becomes even more bendable under the elements.  

Biodegradable Cutlery / Compostable Cutlery: Recently, as greener trends become more prevalent, cutlery companies are getting more innovative with the biodegradable materials they are using in their catering items.They use materials like corn, palm leaves, bamboo, and other renewable options that they grow versus compound.  Beyond being better for our planet, they also make quite the statement with their more natural appeal.

Reflections Plastic Fork
Metallic Looking Cutlery:  Popularized by WNA’s Reflections line of silver plastic forks, knives, and spoons, this type of cutlery adds class to even the simplest of catering events. Great option for a classy setting with a quick clean-up.

Mini Cutlery: Appetizers anyone? Sampling smaller dishes?  Cocktail power hour? Use mini cutlery to add character and design to your holiday catering service.  Available in all of the same options as listed above for cutlery.

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression." - Author Unknown

Raised Platform

Nick Jonas has it right, There's levels to your love.” When displaying your food, appearance is everything, right?  Making your food options pop with levels along the buffet line is one great way to showcase your eatables.  There are a variety of ways you can raise the plate, i.e. overturned bowls, plastic boxes covered in table cloth, metal raised platforms, cake stands, pizza stands, 3 tier stands, buffet systems, or more.  Anything that elevates a plate or bowl provides depth to an otherwise boring flat table. While deli catering may not get this complicated, it’s still good to have options, right?
Plasticware: This includes all of the plastic tableware that you will be serving with. It also includes the disposable cutlery that we mentioned already.  


Plastic plates do not have to look boring and cheap.  Companies like Creative Converting, WNA, and EMI Yoshi offer more elegant solutions with different shapes and styles that are sure to delight your guests.

masterpiece premium plastic plates

Photo Source: Wedding Wire

Plastic Plates: If you want to impress your clients and their guests with your catering service, consider their style. For a modern look, try square shaped plates and bowls. If the company or event has more of a traditional or conservative theme, go with solid colors and a round shape.  A pinstripe around the edge in either gold or silver adds elegance.  Check out the Masterpiece line from WNA and get fancy to see more creative options that will help you make your holiday statement.


Cups: There are a lot of options to consider when determining which disposable cups will work best for your event. The two main disposable glasses to have on hand are wine and champagne glasses and tumblers.


Wine & Champagne Glasses: Celebrate the night with disposable stemware.  Perfect for after work holiday parties and of course New Year’s Eve.


Tumblers:  If you are serving, wine, beer, and other drinks, keep it classy with an all clear tumblr.  All clear cups are available in two different types of material: Polystyrene and PET. Check out these cups from WNA. When dollars matter the most, go with a translucent cup. These cups are also less rigid than all clear tumblers like the Conex brand from Dart.

Small Appetizer plates mini dishes

Photo Source: Party City
Mini Dishes: Hors d'oeuvres are great way to kick off the party before the main course.  Feature smaller portions of your cutlery creations on smaller dishes.  Use the mini cutlery we mentioned earlier for petite bites or add bamboo picks for a natural appeal.  Our favorite: The bamboo knot.

Colored Tableware: Going for the traditional red and green holiday theme? Maybe you want blue and white tableware for Hanukkah.  How about white and sliver for winter? The options are endless with all of the color choices available. We suggest you keep it simple but if you are unsure, you may want to view our variety of solid color plastic and paper tableware.

Serving Utensils
Photo Source: Pinterest

Serving Utensils

When serving from a chafing dish or buffet line, it is essential that you follow this one rule: do not cheapen your food with ugly buffetware.  You have spent countless hours purchasing ingredients, prepping, cooking, transporting, and setting up to display your meals, don’t quit now! Serve your dishes with style using serving utensils that match, that are suited for the task at hand, and are meant to add the final touches to your catered event. Use polished stainless steel serving utensils that add quality to every plated forkful.  Remember how we mentioned the metallic looking disposable cutlery from WNA? Well they also offer the same look to larger serving utensils like tongs, serving spoons and more.

Foil Pans

Don’t have the time or budget to deal with fancy plastic trays? Use foil pans! A favorite for deli catering and ideal for cookies or other pastries served in bulk.  Many foil pans also have foil lids, so you can protect and stack them for easy transport.  But look at us jumping straight to desserts before the main course. Aluminum foil pans are obviously essential catering items for all caterers.  What makes them great is that much of the cooking can be done off premise but just stick a foil pan in a chafing dish and you’re ready to go.  When chafing fuel is used, these pans will heat up nicely and keep your foods warm if needed.  They come in a variety of sizes which makes it easy for you to use them for just about any dish.

Serving Bowls

The larger the better right? Nope.  Unless you are having a family style sit down dinner, control portions and expectations of the food you serve by picking the best suited sized bowl. Serving bowls are available in stainless steel, melamine, ceramic, plastic, large rimmed. Even more, you can get them in a variety of shapes i.e. , oval, round, square, and rectangular. Disposable serving bowls are the ideal choice for large salads, pasta bowls, and fruit bowls. Although available in many colors, clear and black are the most popular.

Food Carrier Cups
Food Boxes and Beverage Dispensers

If you are setting up on location, travel smart and be prepared.  Contact your favorite catering equipment supplier and get food boxes that safely transport foods at appropriate temperatures.

 chafing dish

Chafing Dishes

If you have reached this point and still need to ask “What is a chafing dish?”, it may be too late.  The king of buffetware defines your catering presentation - well at least in the eyes of the guests.  If this is a one-time gig and you’re just serving food platters then a chafing dish is not needed. But if you are like most party planners and caterers, this is an annual if not more frequent service you provide and therefore, a chafing dish will demonstrate a prestige not easily achieved.
We recommend roll top chafers. They offer an ease-in-service by providing somewhere for the lid to go, keep your delicacies warm and the mirrored gleam denotes a professional touch.


Now you’re set for a show-stopping holiday party but in case we missed anything above, we would love to hear your thoughts.  Until then, Party on!


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