Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Mar 8, 2014 11:07 AM

Self Cater an Evening Fundraising Event


I am working with a volunteer group to coordinate our first evening silent auction as a fundraiser for my son's elementary school. Our budget is low (about $1000 for 150 people) so we are self-catering the event. We have been to BJs to price out various items and have the following on our menu:

cheese platter - gouda, brie, sharp cheddar, goat, havarti, pepper jack, crackers, grapes
antipasti - proscuitto, salame, pepperoni, mixed olives, artichokes, french bread
veggie tray w/homemade ranch
shrimp cocktail
bacon wrapped scallops
pigs in a blanket
risotto bites
spring rolls
chicken satay
hummus & pita
chips & salsa
dessert - mini brownies & cupcakes

We may try to get a couple local restaurants to donate some sushi. This doesn't exactly max out our budget. I'd love to add something like grilled veggies but don't exactly have the time to make it, given everything else that has to happen the day of the event.

With the individual pieces, we have about 3-4 pcs per person. Is that enough? Any thoughts on the menu? Other ideas of what we might be able to serve that would be easy to execute, store and then serve that night.

Thanks for your help!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. My understanding for a cocktail type party the rule of thumb was 6-8 pieces per person, per hour. My gut is if the budget is tight pare back on the offerings and increase the per person amounts otherwise just increase the amounts.

    In terms of the menu couple of easy make ahead ideas to consider-

    Mini meatballs in crock pots
    Bowls of seasoned popcorn-Parmesan, salt and black pepper, truffle, etc
    Trays of baked pasta-veggie lasagna, etc

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodieX2

      Agree with the other posters. 3-4 pieces per person isn't much so I'd try to cut corners and have more pieces per person. Especially if you get donated sushi - shrimp and scallops are really unnecessary then.

      I would stay away from trays of lasagna. Then it goes to needing knives, dinner plates, forks as opposed to passed cocktails and napkins or even an appetizer buffet where you can get by with smaller plates and no cutlery.

    2. Agreed with the notion that this is too many items. Not only is it a lot more work, but it makes figuring out the amounts needed more difficult.
      In addition it is a fund raiser, people do not expect an orgy of food.
      Pick 4-8 depending on how long the event is going to last.

      1. Is this an early evening event? Will it be close to dinner time?
        I agree with others, less variety with more per person. Skip the pricey prosciutto and shrimp cocktail- no matter how much shrimp you buy you will run out of it first.

        What about different flatbread pizzas? Make a thin rectangular pizza and then serve small squares- a few versions with simple yet "fancy" toppings like pesto and fresh arugala, a margharita, a white pizza with fresh herbs....
        Also to save $ you could do bacon wrapped asparagus instead of the scallops (the scallops may be hard to cook in a large volume and then serve without having them overcook to rubbery...)

        Instead of grilling the veggies you could roast them (even the day before) so its hands off cooking- roasted radishes are my new favorite thing. Easy enough with just salt and pepper, olive oil and a drizzle of basalmic.

        1. I would decrease the number of offerings. I think by having a lot of items but not enough of any one thing for everyone to have a taste will result in shortages, as people will expect to try one of each offering. I would also go for more items per person, as other have said.

          Looking at the list, I would ditch the shrimp and scallops as being pricier per item, and reduce the single portion appetizers to two or three at most, with one being vegetarian.

          1. Grabable fruit might be a good bet......grapes cut into little bunches, sections of citrus, plums, strawberries.....