The Do’s and Don’ts of Happy Hour Catering Etiquette

happy hour catering etiquette

When it comes to planning an office happy hour, there’s a lot to consider. Guests will remember the atmosphere, music, and food. But what about that crucial time just before everyone dives in for cocktails? Catering etiquette for the happy hour event is something most people don’t consider until it’s too late, leaving guests awkwardly standing around as they wait. 

That’s why it’s essential to educate yourself on the dos and don’ts of pre-event catering etiquette. Not only can it save precious minutes and dollars, but proper etiquette also contributes significantly to your guest’s experience. According to recent statistics by The Event Manager Blog, incorporating catered hors d’oeuvres into an event can boost attendance by up to 25%. 

So, make sure your office happy hour event stands out from all other events. Understand the essential tips for setting up an impressive catering service.


1. Consider Your Guest List & Dietary Restrictions

Whether you’re throwing a small party or a more elaborate corporate event, curating the guest list and their dietary restrictions is just as important as planning the food menu. Doing some prior research into what your guests want to eat will ensure they all enjoy the offerings. 

Ask ahead of time if any of your guests have food allergies requiring special meals or keepsakes that need to be considered, such as vegetarians. Also, consider age-appropriate options for youths who may be attending too. Planning ahead by catering to small dietary requests can make all the difference in creating an enjoyable experience for everyone.

Happy hour catering provides food and drinks for events in the late afternoon or early evening, when people relax and unwind after work. CaterCow is an online catering marketplace that features a variety of menus designed for groups of different sizes. 

Their platform enables a process of ordering food for group events, making it easy for hosts to place an order with a single click. CaterCow also assists with happy hour catering by connecting hosts with restaurants that offer a range of options, from simple appetizers or charcuterie to full buffet-style dinners for longer events.

2. Provide Enough Food and Drink Options For Your Guests

It’s important to provide enough food and drink options for your guests to ensure everyone has something to enjoy. Research suggests that average catering for a two-hour happy hour should include six different hors d’oeuvres per person and about two drinks per person. 

Don’t forget any extra snacks like chips or popcorn as well. It’s also helpful to provide different levels of alcohol – low-proof cocktails or beer/wine with non-alcoholic options available too. Hence, with some creative thought on your catering strategy, providing an unforgettable experience for all will be easy.

3. Be Hospitable and Attend To Your Guests’ Needs

At the heart of a successful happy hour is good hospitality. Take time to be more than just an event planner – ensure you’re attending to your guests’ needs and answering any questions that may arise during the event. 

Be friendly and knowledgeable about what’s offered, and actively provide personalized attention for each guest. Not only does this show your gratitude towards them, but it also reflects on your quality of service and can help your guests have a memorable experience.


1. Forget To Label Food and Drinks Clearly

When setting up the food and drinks, it’s essential to clearly label each item so your guests know what they’re getting. Before everyone arrives, make sure all containers contain labels like “vegetarian” or “gluten-free” so guests can quickly grab an appropriate snack while mingling. 

You may also want to consider creating a list of all dishes being offered on a signage board that indicates which items have common allergens. Furthermore, double-check to verify if certain items require warming equipment or extra utensils as well – it’s never too early to start preparing.

2. Don’t Overcrowd Your Space Or Neglect Seating Arrangements

It’s essential to be aware of how much space you have before setting up the catering. If the area is tight, consider offering limited food and drink options compared to a larger event, as overcrowding can leave guests feeling uncomfortable. 

Furthermore, seating arrangements are essential for ensuring everyone can get around easily and not bump into each other’s plates. Having designated areas for standing-height surfaces like high bars or tall tables with stools will help encourage guests to freely flow from one region to another while they mingle. 

3. Don’t Let Guests Overindulge Or Get Intoxicated

It is important to know your limits when offering drinks at a happy hour event. A great way to keep each guest responsible for enjoying his/her drinks is to provide plenty of non-alcoholic options and replenish snacks accordingly. Aim for good food, generous spirits, and professional service – not excess intoxication or negative consequences. 

Lastly, remind the bar staff to watch those who have gone too far while still providing hospitable service. In order to create a pleasant atmosphere that everyone can enjoy, make sure guests are taking responsible measures in how much they’re drinking.

Nicole Middleton
Nicole calls herself a typical millennial girl and thrives on her share of social media, celebrity gossip, and all things viral content. She’s a big fan of pop music and plays the guitar as a hobby.