Catering for the company picnic? Consider these menu do's and don'ts.

Companies are always looking for new ways to entertain (and feed!) their employees. When it comes to company functions, picnics have become a popular choice over the last few years. They allow for a large number of people, can include children, and take advantage of South Africa’s great weather (especially in Durban!). They’re also a chance to get everyone out of the office. 

Deciding on the menu for your company picnic can be a challenge. If you’re in charge, consider these menu do’s and don’ts – they’ll ensure the food is just right for the event:


  • Consider the occasion.

Is this an elegant ‘at the races’ type of picnic for senior management or a full-on family outing for all employees and their children? This will help you decide on the type and amount of food to serve, as well as how you are going to serve it.

  • Pick a food theme.

To pull your catering together, you should consider using a food theme, for example, American barbeque, South African delights, Spanish tapas, or Italian feast. You should align your food theme with the overall event theme, if there is one, so that everything flows and the food becomes a central part of the experience.

  • Remember to ask about dietary and religious restrictions.

Some of your guests might not eat certain foods due to dietary requirements like Banting or religious reasons e.g. Jewish people do not eat pork. Make sure to avoid those items in planning your menu or to have suitable alternatives.

  • How you will serve your menu.

To make serving a large number of people easy, consider using a buffet layout where all the food is prepared and laid out beforehand. Or use large catering platters that can be passed around. That way, people serve themselves, using the supplied crockery or paper plates. Alternatively, you could offer each person or group a stocked picnic basket. Easy dining outdoors done!


  • Make it too complicated.

You’re going to be outdoors so keep it simple. Avoid foods that require too much cutlery or are difficult to serve. Cold food might be best as keeping food warm outdoors (in a space without proper kitchen facilities) can be challenging.

  • Forget the extras:

While you may not need to give people much crockery or cutlery e.g. if you are serving finger foods, you will still need some e.g. plates or a bread knife. And don’t forget drinking glasses and serviettes.

  • Miss the clean-up:

Feeding a large number of people can get messy. Make sure that the menu you’ve chosen requires minimal clean-up and that you are prepared to take away any leftover food, as well as anything that needs to be thrown away or recycled.

Company picnics can be lots of fun but they also require much preparation and careful planning. And the food is only one element. As experts at catering corporate events, Food Matters can help you select the perfect food for your event, using a set or customised menu, and get it all ready for you.

Relieve the pressure and hire a professional caterer to help sort out your menu.