That’s the unicorn we event planners chase with each event we plan. Analyzing each detail to ensure it is adding to the story we’re trying to tell. All in pursuit of creating a unique and memorable experience.
But which details can you get the most bang for your buck? The food, for starters!!!
The bulk of most event budgets lies in food. Therefore, it makes sense to put extra effort into creative food offerings. This doesn’t need to increase your budget. This is about HOW the food is presented.
Because as they say, presentation is everything. Give your guests choices, engage them, and cater to their individual tastes as much as you can. Let them explore.
We keep a watchful eye on fresh event ideas and food trends. To help get your wheels turning, we scoured our Interactive Food Stations Pinterest board to share some of our favorites.
Below are ideas for 21 interactive food bars to help you create your next unique and memorable event experience.
Painting with Sauces
People like to choose their own sauces on many kinds of foods. But instead of dispensing them with a ladle, what if you let people paint their own sauces onto plates? It’s like a delicious kindergarten art class!
Ice Cream Bar
Raise your hand if you like ice cream! As for those of you not raising your hands, can you please stop lying? Thanks.
At a Montreal conference in May, Montreal-based caterer Agnus Dei created this popular interactive sorbet station. Rings of raspberry, mango, and coconut sorbet spun around a wheel, while guests simply had to hold up a scoop to the device to build their own cone. Pretty sweet, eh?
Burgers might be the most crowd-pleasing food ever invented. Your burger bar can have a plethora of options for toppings, condiments … our mouths are watering just writing this.
Salad might not elicit the unabashed joy of ice cream or burgers, but they’re pretty darned fan-friendly. If your salad bar has enough variety, you won’t leave anyone disappointed.
Caramel Apple Bar
Caramel apples are fun to eat. Maybe a bit messy, and definitely not good for you, but who’s gonna turn down the chance to be a kid again? Eat that caramel apple!
Candies, nuts, cheeses and butter are among the topping options you can use at your next event’s popcorn bar. The chalkboard effect used here makes it look pretty cool, too.
This one is a little different, but no less tasty than anything mentioned so far. You can offer many variations of veggies, spreads, nuts and more. Bruschetta isn’t just tomatoes anymore, folks.
When it’s time for dessert, you can revert to old standards like sheet cake or pastries. But what fun is that?
Melting your own marshmallows over a fire is a fun experience for people ages six to 60. Let the guests at your next event make their own S’mores, and you’ll see a smile on everyone’s face.
Get a big crowd together, and you can get them to argue about barbecue. Some prefer Carolina, others Kansas City, and don’t forget about Memphis … the list goes on and on.
Fortunately, your BBQ bar can offer a variety of sauces to satisfy every palette. Just make sure to stay neutral when someone asks YOU about it.
Nachos are a tricky dish to perfect. The cheese to chip distribution has to be just right, with too little cheese a disappointment and too much making the nachos difficult to eat.
Let guests make the nachos themselves, and they’re in charge of their own destiny. From the cheese to the guac to the jalapenos, everyone will have a unique twist.
Not too long ago, we commissioned a Belgian waffle food truck for an event, and it made everybody happy. Check out our blog post about it.
A well-organized waffle bar offers guests a meal/treat hybrid, with plenty of options for toppings. We won’t tell anyone if you decide to eat waffles for dinner.
Alfredo, marinara, pesto … mmmmmmm. Everyone loves pasta, right?
Mashed Potato Bar
Everyone loves mashed potatoes as well, but they don’t get them nearly as often. Offer bacon, sour cream, chives, cheese, and some more unusual ingredients, and your guests will be clamoring for more.
Every time someone eats fondue, they think, “I really wish I ate this more often.” At your next event, be the hero who gives the people fondue. Whether it’s cheese, chocolate or both, they’ll thank you.
Why is this different than walking down the street to Dunkin or Krispy Kreme? First of all, if you have a donut bar, guests won’t need to walk anywhere. Secondly, if you offer enough interesting topics, the chain donut shops will be forgotten after their first bite.
The most fun thing about going to a froyo store is the options. Fill your cup with yogurt, and then proceed to the topping bar with its 78 tantalizing choices.
Your yogurt bar will be kinda sorta healthy, and extremely yummy.
Chili is another one of those “fun with toppings” kind of foods. As long as the basic chili is solid, your guests can add a flavor punch with cheese, sour cream, Fritos and more. What’s your favorite chili topping?
Sandwich bars work well for all sorts of settings, from graduations to corporate luncheons. Your do-it-yourself station allows your guests to take the bland – say, ham and cheese – and add flavor to their heart’s desire.
Before you ask, this event attraction isn’t just for those in the South. Biscuits are delicious, as are the toppings ranging from cheese to honey. Just make sure the biscuits aren’t too crumbly, y’all.
Snack Mix Bar
This food bar is the ultimate do-it-yourself experience, with guests able to specify their ratio of salty to sweet. Your attendees will feel like they’re eating something healthy while enjoying a delicious snack at the same time.
Let’s wrap things up with something everyone likes – CANDY!
Customized candy options for your next event can include fun-looking kebabs, along with old favorites like Tootsie Rolls and M&Ms. Just make sure your entire guest list doesn’t crash after coming down from their sugar high.
In conclusion, the key here is personalization. Allowing attendees to personalize and customize their own food to their specifications is a slam dunk recipe for a memorable event experience.
We’ll keep exploring interactive food bars, and add any new ideas that we come across. Follow along!
Eventfully Angela is a premier independent event management partner specializing in Corporate Events and Event Branding. Based in Charlotte, NC, Eventfully Angela fills the resource gaps of businesses both large and small, with premium and customized services. Specialties include full-service planning, sourcing and venue selection, on-site day of support, consulting and contract audits, event marketing and branding, experiential event design, and fully customized event registration websites. 704-754-2627 firstname.lastname@example.org