Whether you’re doing it yourself, or planning with a caterer, whether you’re having a dessert buffet or a sit-down, three-course dinner, these factors will apply.

1. Seasonality. Foods that are in season are less expensive and easier to find. Seasonal dishes make sense to your guests, too: people prefer lighter fare in hot weather, comfort food in cold.

2. Variety. Even if you’re having a dessert buffet, as are the writers at The Kitchen, you can still provide variety in taste, texture, temperature, and color. With a less focused menu comes opportunity for even greater variety.
3. Scale. Cooking for two and cooking for 250 are quite different. Not only will you be scaling up recipes by ten or twenty times, you’ll have space considerations and different logistics to take into account. Where are you going to store things? If you’re working with an outside caterer, they will need to see the facilities so they can work these things out.

4. Cost. Do-it-yourself catering cuts out the professional fees, but you’ll miss out on professional discounts on food costs. Whether you work with a caterer or not, take the costs of ingredients into account. Some items are very expensive; choose carefully.

5. Storage. Where will you put it all?