How To Do Home Catering

Valentines Day Dinner party group of friends dining together

Share This Post

Home Catering and Celebrations

Growing up in a big family meant that there were many mouths to feed, particularly on birthdays where everyone would congregate at a family member’s or my parents’ home to eat, drink and get merry.

Mum wasn’t a particularly good cook whereas Dad was, but he wasn’t particularly keen on slaving away in the kitchen for most the most part in  31 degree heat complimented by 90% humidity. It was a ‘battle’ that doesn’t take much convincing to walk away from. This is when we got into the routine of hiring home caterers for parties. I remember very fondly of the times when I would be eagerly anticipating the next birthday in the family (particularly mine!). Whenever home catering was organised,  it would feel like a mini food fest at home.

Whomever it was who conjured up the concept of catering deserves a noble prize. Home catering not only takes away the stresses of grocery shopping, prep and cooking, it also allows the host or hostess to mix and match various types of cuisine. Most importantly, it leaves you to bask in the joy of entertaining amongst great company sans the hard work that comes with it.

With a great home caterer taking care of the hard work from prep to cleaning up, all you need to do decide on hiring just the right caterer to suit your needs.

We’re spoilt for choice these days with so many amazing home catering businesses out there. If you’re new to home catering, I have some great tips and suggestions for you below. You can thank my family after for being able to share my experience with home catering!

Image courtesy of Gathar

So What Exactly is Home Catering?

Just as the name suggests, it’s a caterer that comes to your home, or location of your event and caters it there. It means that you can choose to have your event at home or at a location that is inexpensive and still have beautifully delicious food prepared for you and your guests.

A home caterer would have a selection of menus to suit different budgets and some would have themed menus if you’re looking for something more exquisite. Most would have the food cooked prior and brought to you in hot boxes, whilst fresh foods like salads will be put together and tossed at your event. Some caterers such as personal chefs would cook in your home so you’re bringing the luxury of restaurant dining right into your own home with setting up and cleaning up after. There are so many options to choose from so it all comes down to what you’re looking for.

Jodie Mlikota, CEO of Gathar says, “The best part of home catering is that the hard work is all taken care of. This means you can focus on all the fun things that you usually don’t get a chance to think about when you’re stuck in the kitchen. Have fun picking out a playlist, planning your outfit and most importantly enjoying the company of your guests. It also gives you the opportunity to try new foods from different cultures such as Persian tapas. It’s a huge win-win!”

Platter Wonderland grazing table
Image courtesy of Platter Wonderland

The Ever Popular Grazing Table

Grazing tables and buffet style catering options are becoming very popular for all sorts of occasions. Grazing tables provide yours guests with the opportunity to sample a variety of different foods. A well-thought out grazing platter is usually set up to be the highlight of the party, and an unforgettable visual feast.

Grazing tables are like blank canvases to an artist, and a great and experienced caterer can simply let their creativity flow into putting together a stunningly delectable table.

Speak with a few different catering companies to see what options they have and whether they are able to work with the vision that you have.

Each caterer will have a distinct method of how they like to set up their tables, and can provide you with examples of their previous work.

Sebastian from TLC Catering explains how he likes to set up his grazing tables:

“I like to start with larger foods such as meats, cheeses, crudites and antipasto and play with an assortment of shapes and sizes. I also like to be creative in how I present my cold meats (rolling or folding into quarters looks great!) and the way I cut any vegetables I use. I use a variety of colours – for example, a few different dip flavours. And add lots of texture through other elements – like crackers, nuts and fruit.”

Sebastian of TLC catering
Sebastian of TLC Catering Sydney

Start With The Basics

As with any type of event planning, you’ll have to start out with a budget in mind. Figure out how many guests you would like to invite, decide on the date, time and venue. The venue could be in your own home, or at a desired location. You could also decide on a theme to add on a layer of fun and pizzazz. If you’re working with an experienced and reputable caterer, they should be able to work with you on planning catering that is within your budget for the number of guests as well as any other extras.  This is also an opportunity to discuss any special dietary requirements that need to be taken into consideration.

Style and Atmosphere

For the most part, ambience is a key factor when considering where we would go to eat out. The atmosphere and style plays an important role too when it comes to catering at home.

“When talking with your caterer, brief them on the atmosphere and vibe that you’re wanting. The casual, feasting style with grazing tables is a very popular choice at the moment. It provides and relaxed environment where you and your guests can mingle and have the freedom to choose from a variety of foods.

Some of our clients prefer to emulate the fine dining experience at home with five course degustations, whilst others choose to have a themed cocktail party. It all comes down to personal preference and budget, says Jodie Mlikota, CEO of Gathar.

Platter Wonderland grazing table
Image courtesy of Gathar

Consider The Extras

This could include the provision tables, chairs, cutlery, glassware, tableware and any other props. If your venue is outdoors, you may need to consider gazebos, floor tarps and also an indoor contingency if weather fails to hold up. A good caterer would be able to provide you with these extras or can point you to a third party who can properly assist you with these.

If you’re looking to ease the stresses of ensuring there’re enough bottles of alcohol to serve your guests, then look to hire a mobile keg bar service such as Vintage on Tap based in the Gold Coast. From a vino van to a prosecco parlour, Georgina and David’s team are there to ensure that you have a memorable and classy get-together.

Vintage on Tap image of couple next to bar
Image courtesy of Vintage on Tap

Level of Service

At your discussions with your caterer, bring up the level of service that you would expect. Some hosts would prefer for guests to roam freely and help themselves to the food, whilst others may prefer to have servers at more formal gatherings.

Discuss The Setup and Cleanup

This is one of the best parts of hiring a home caterer. They set it all up and clean up after so that you can focus on hosting and having a great time. Ask the caterer how much prep time they’ll need on the day so that you can advise your guests of the best arrival time. You wouldn’t want your guests turning up before the scene is set and you still in your home clothes. It would be ideal to have your guests arrive an hour after at a minimum to allow your cater some contingency time for prep.

If your caterer is to be using your kitchen, make sure that it’s clean and ready to go when they arrive. They can be expected to leave it the way they came into it. Discuss the washing up, most reputable caterers will ensure that your kitchen is left spick and span after. Ask your caterer if you’re to be expected to pack up the rentals and return them, of if they’d be doing that.

Where Do I Find A Home Caterer?

The first step is to start searching online, on social media and have a chat with your friends who may have hired a home caterer.

Shortlist a number of businesses and look at their reviews which will be a sure-fire sign of whether you’re on the right track. Most importantly, hire a caterer who understands your needs and you can see yourself working really well with.

If you’re time poor and would rather spend your time elsewhere rather than scouring the Net, then head on over to Gathar, a beautifully delicious online marketplace featuring culinarians across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria with expansion across Australia and beyond, where you could find a professional chef or cook who would do it all for you.

I’ve also put together a list of amazing catering businesses from Melbourne to Sydney and New York who can help you create impeccable and unforgettable parties and events without the hassle. If you have any to add to the list, do share it with us at or on our Facebook page @homecookloveaus.

And lastly as Manar, creator at Platter Wonderland Sydney aptly puts it “We love food and people and when you bring them together in the same space, the energy created is wonderful. “We believe good food brings people together, great food gets people talking”

With Happy Food Vibes,

Ali signature with profile photo


Gathar is on a mission to change the way you entertain at home. Through the Gathar marketplace, cooks and chefs connect with hosts looking to create amazing dinner parties at home, without the hard work.

Find Gathar:

Olive and Thyme Catering (Melbourne)

Olive and Thyme Catering was founded by husband and wife team, Ilias and Renee Patsiaouras in 2016, after seeing a gap in the market for good quality, homemade finger food and buffet food.

Their distinct grazing style is based on a Mediterranean way of eating, with finger food handmade by Olive and Thyme Catering, set amongst indulgent grazing is their signature look.

Find Olive and Thyme:

Olive and Thyme grazing table setting

TLC Catering (Sydney) 

TLC Catering is a Sydney-based company that specialises in traditional Lebanese cuisine made with Tender Loving Care.

Nada Khouri Nada is the mother of the pack while Sebastian and Anthony are her sons who believed in her vision. They also create luxury bespoke hampers. 

Follow TLC Catering:


TLC catering cheese box

Platter Wonderland (Sydney)

Sydney’s leading Grazing Table caterer Platter Wonderland creates unforgettable grazing tables all over Sydney. They also create colourful, portable and delicious platter boxes perfect for picnics & entertaining. Using fresh produce and ingredients from around the world, you’ll find something for everyone. 

Find Platter Wonderland:

Platter Wonderland grazing table


Vintage On Tap (Gold Coast)

Vintage On Tap mobile keg bars is a truly unique experience with a one of a kind mobile bars, based on the Gold Coast. It’s mobile keg bar experience and add-ons are perfect to hire for parties, weddings, engagement celebrations, festivals, promotions, corporate functions or any other event experience. With 3 bars available, full styling and impeccable bar service, Vintage On Tap know how to make your special day memorable.

Find Vintage On Tap:

Vintage On Tap vino van

Peppercorn Events (New Jersey, USA)

Peppercorn Events is a full-service catering company that specializes in local, seasonal, custom catering. Based in NJ, Peppercorn Events services the NY metro area with events ranging from intimate dinner parties to rustic outdoor weddings.

Find Peppercorn Events:

Peppercorn Events canapes

Sugarbird Sweets & Teas (Los Angeles, USA)

For afternoon tea-centric menu with tea sandwiches, scones and mini desserts, cheese plate delivered to your home.

Find Sugarbird Sweets & Teas:

Sugarbird tea and sweets blog image

NB: is not affiliated with the businesses listed above in any way. Featuring these businesses is simply a way of us showing support for these wonderful food businesses and giving back to the F&B community. 

Subscribe to download

Get Your Free Definitive Dinner Party Planning Checklist

Whether you’re a hosting maven or novice, we’ve got you covered with our delightfully helpful dinner party planning checklist. 

Our e-store is currently unavailable as we're working on some updates.