Looking to plan your next meeting or event in Chicago with cost savings in mind? Consider these 10 tips when looking to save on food and beverage plans.


1. Research how many of your attendees go to food events and consider giving guests the option to dine off-site during certain meal times. Also, handing out gift cards to local eateries for breakfast and lunch can cost less than a catered meal.


2. Seek out dining rooms that already feature impressive decor or large windows that afford fantastic views, which will allow you to spend less on table settings, decorations, etc.

3. Try piggybacking on another event. Ask about the events occurring before or after your own, and see if you can use the same menu or split costs on bulk items.


Dessert station for event catering

4. Buffets might seem less expensive, but guests may instead end up eating more than they normally would. Switch things up by offering small plates, or use staffed food stations throughout the event space.

5. Avoid high-priced foods like lobster and oysters. One can still design an upscale menu by highlighting local cuisine, such as adding a gourmet twist to a regional favorite.

6. Implement a theme instead of a full menu. Guests adore special, tailored offerings like a dessert station or hot chocolate bar.


Cocktail reception

7. Use stand-up tables at cocktail receptions, which encourage participants to network and not overindulge while mixing and mingling.

8. Ask about discounted wine labels, negotiate bartender fees and serve house brand liquors over premium labels.

9. Instead of water bottles, station the event with five-gallon water dispensers and have companies hand out reusable water bottles or cups that display their brand.

10. Rather than serving individual cans of soda, make pitchers of iced tea and juice available, which is often less than half the cost per person.


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