Event Planning & Catering

Event Planning

Whether planning a small workshop or a large conference, having the event details organized in one place will aid coordination of a successful event and the processing of expense reports and post-event analysis. For larger events, a post event analysis of what worked well and what didn’t will be very valuable if the event is to be repeated.   Use the information below to prepare for your next event, and the check list included here to help you stay organized.


Reserve a Space

Space is at a premium, so book as soon as possible.  First, decide whether The Grove or another campus space has the type facility you need for your event. Note that spaces within in UE/The Grove are generally free to use for inter-department events and meetings.

Booking Spaces in The Grove (UE) 

Reserve Campus Spaces Outside of UE: 

1. Find a room with the size and amenities and availability you need:

2. Reserve your room through Conference and Event Services

3. Make sure your attendees will know how to get there with directions or by providing a map with the invite if necessary:



Planning for Food & Beverages 


Using University Catering (752-2997) or the approved vendors with UC Davis is easiest as these folks have experience catering events on campus.  Be aware of serving sizes as all caterers list them differently.  University Catering has many items with minimum orders of 10-12 servings, others may also have minimums that must be met to ensure delivery on campus. Make sure that your event meal expenses meet the University’s allowable entertainment/meal guidelines here.

Orders for University Catering should be placed at least two weeks in advance.  With events where hundreds are being fed, book the catering as soon as the date and facility are reserved. This is to ensure your event is on the vendor’s calendar and you can make adjustments as needed when attendance numbers are finalized.   Review University Catering policies here.

  • Place a Catering Order Online 
  • Always confirm ahead of time! For large orders, you may want to put it on your calendar to call a day or two before your event, or if the vendor has not already contacted you for confirmation. Have the vendor read back the details they have recorded for your order.  For small orders, it’s wise to call the morning of the event. 


  • What to order?
  • If you are not already planning on providing vegan/vegetarian/nut free items, you may want to include a question about dietary restrictions in your invitation process or a selection option.  You may ask caterers to put certain ingredients on the side.  You may want to ensure that all items with common allergens are labeled so no accidental ingestions take place.
  • When to order?
  • The larger the order, the earlier you should place the order as even large operations can reach a limit of how much they can do on any given day due to food storage and preparation space limitations.  Ask the vendor by what date they will need to know final headcounts and any additions, subtractions or substitutions to the order. Even most pizza places can take orders many days in advance.
  • How much to order?
  • First ask: has this event or a similar one occurred before?  You can check old Travel & Expense reports to glean some information on how an event was catered the previous year.
    For seated meals: ALWAYS order for the number of guests you are expecting. If you under order because you are used to having lots of food leftover you may run out of paper/china products and possibly beverages and food
  • For seated meals
  • ALWAYS order for the number of guests you are expecting. If you under order because you are used to having lots of food leftover you may run out of paper/china products and possibly beverages and food. 
  • For buffet-style events
  • It can be hard to know how much to order for a buffet.  Most good caterers will give you good advice. Also many caterers will bring enough to serve slightly over the attendance you give them, so try not to over order.  On the same note, if you over order because you have heavy eaters and you need an ‘all-you-can-eat’ buffet you will have more non-consumable products  (china/paper/labor) than necessary to do your event and possibly incur unnecessary expense to your unit.  An inaccurate guest count can cause a multitude of problems from an operational standpoint. 
  • For reception-type events
  • Many factors need to be considered when planning a reception to determine ideal quantities; how long it lasts, the time of day, will dinner be immediately following, the type of attendees, etc.  Your catering consultant can help recommend amounts for you.  There are basic guidelines on how to order for receptions below. However, keep in mind there are several factors that will influence the amount of food you should order.


How to plan for catering quantities (direct document download)

  • Consider the length of your event.  For example, a 1.5 hour breakfast meeting for 10 people will not require as much as a 4 hour morning meeting for 10 people that has items brought in the beginning but those items also gets a second pass during a break.
  • Bottled waters are nice but it is often cheaper to go with pitchers or dispensers, especially if other beverages are provided. 
  • When in doubt, use the catering quantity guidelines from University Catering or use the quantity estimating worksheet (xlsx). 


Other Faculty/Equipment Considerations

AV needs 

  • Know exactly what your presenter’s needs are:  Will they be bringing a presentation on their laptop?  On a flash drive? Will they need access to the internet?
  • Know what AV equipment the room has available. For classroom setups, review the registrar’s classroom database, or check with event services if using a Campus and Recreation. You can look up a classroom set up here.
  • Show up early to test the AV and know how the AV works if you do not have a room attendant or AV attendant who does. Many meetings are delayed due to missing a particular cord/adaptor or extension cord.  For assistance with AV, contact Event ATV Support.

Equipment Rentals

Some campus facilities have an inventory of equipment they can rent for use within their facility, such as chairs, extra tables and portable white boards. There are three sources for equipment rentals at UC Davis:

  • Extensive information about equipment rentals can be found at Campus Recreation and Unions.   
  • Special Services (Distribution Services) can also provide rentals and labor for delivery and pick up for such things as canopies and poster boards.
  • A Grand Affair is an approved rental vendor as well. 
  • Accessibility:  Remember to make sure any accessibility needs are accommodated!  More information on accessibility is located here if having attendees register for an event, it is always a good idea to ask if they need any special accomodations.
  • Special permits for alcohol and amplifying sound are required.  Contact CES for more information on special permitting.