Often, the most expensive component of catering for any event, no matter the size, is the cost of alcohol. We know the drill, you want to impress and cater to your guests’ tastes, but you don’t want to blow the budget while you’re at it. Fear not, we’ve got you covered with our top 3 alcohol budget saving tips.

Sober advice for your beverage budget

1. Make them yourself!

Depending on your venue selection, one of the easiest way to save money on your beverage budget is by getting your creative juices flowing and pouring them out for guests yourself. You can have a lot of fun making custom drinks specifically tailored to your event, and you can cut your labour costs by bringing your own bartender.

The only caveat with serving guests yourself lies in licensing laws. Whoever on your team is tasked with this job needs their Serving It Right certificate to legally serve drinks in BC. Thankfully, all you have to do is visit their website and read up on liquor laws, and then fill out a quick 20 minute test and voila! You have your Serving It Right certificate. It’s straightforward (and mostly just common sense) and once you’ve got it, you’ve got it! If there is someone on your team that always has a bright smile, likes engaging with people and that you can rely on it’s worth looking closely at this point.

We’ve also talked about How to Handle a Drunken Guest at your Party just in case you come across trouble.

2. Keep it simple

If you’re not feeling the role of bartender, another great way to cut your drinks budget in half is by keeping the offering nice a simple. When presented with too many options, most people just pick what’s familiar to them, so give your guests simple options and they’ll be happy campers.

Keep it simple by picking two house wines – a red and a white – and three different beers for your guest to choose from. Five options is more than enough for most. Making the decision to forego the hard liquor saves dollars. If, however, your event calls for hard liquor, stay away from fancy cocktails. We all love a pink umbrella as much as the next person, but if you’re trying to keep things simple and save yourself some money, pick three liquors and three soft drinks, and have some straight up, old fashions mixers.

3. Keep it local

If you’re calling in bar staff and bringing your own alcohol to your event, have some fun with it and collaborate with the locals! We have some fantastic local wineries and breweries in the lower mainland, so leverage them and make some new friends while you’re at it.

Many local wineries will sell wine by the box at a discounted price, and some of the smaller breweries will leap at the chance of the exposure your event will bring their brand. For some crowd pleasing wines, check out Back Yard Vineyards in South Langley, and you can’t go wrong with locally brewed Steamworks beers.

Sage Advice

And a bonus tip that works well at most events. By far the easiest way to trim down your drinks budget at a licensed venue is by giving your guests two drinks tickets each. You stay in complete control of your budget and your guests are given a nice start on enjoying their evening. In fact for some, two drinks is plenty and for others who want more, they can make the choice of whether they would like to open their own wallet. I’ve sen many events, where this tactic dramatically reduces the alcohol consumption which also helps keep the group in order.

No matter how you choose to simplify your drinks menu to suit your budget, be sure to always have someone on hand with their Serving It Right certificate to serve your guests safely.

Kimberly Rohachuk

Kimberly Rohachuk

Over my career I've had the honor of working on some major events, including the World AIDS Conference in Vancouver, G8 Foreign Ministers meeting, and the Vancouver 2010 Olympics bid delegation to Prague. I’ve also worked with a number of corporate clients all over the world delivering hundreds of events for groups ranging from 50 to 1,500 people.

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