Food and Drink

Published 12th November 2019

Food and drink during an event can motivate attendance, help people to relax, and can encourage people to stay and discuss their ideas. If you need to serve refreshments in a separate room, make sure it’s not too far away, as moving tends to lose people. In general, try to have a range of healthy and less healthy snacks and always provide plenty of accessible water.

If you are hosting a dinner, please see here for additional tips.

Dietary Restrictions

  • Provide information about what food will be available so people can decide if they want to eat beforehand, bring their own food, etc. If you are going to a restaurant, link to the restaurant’s menu if possible.
  • Ask people to give you information about dietary restrictions if you are planning to serve a meal.
  • Many EAs are vegetarian and vegan, so have ample meat-free options. Many EA groups choose to only cater vegetarian or vegan food.


When serving drinks, provide plenty of nice options without caffeine or alcohol, so it doesn’t feel like the default option is caffeinated or alcoholic. If there will be alcohol at the event, make sure to find out whether under-aged people can still attend, and make that clear in the description.

Ideas for refreshments

Finger Foods

  • Chips, carrot or celery sticks and dips (hummus, salsa, guacamole, tzatziki, artichoke)
  • Pastries, biscuits or crisps
  • Fresh fruit skewers (or easy to eat fruits like grapes and berries)
  • Finger sandwiches
  • Bruschetta
  • Mandarins, apples sliced into quarters (whole apples don’t get eaten very often), bananas.

Cold Food

  • Sandwiches
  • Tortilla Wraps
  • Pasta Salads
  • Other salads

Delivered Food

  • Getting food delivered reduces the burden on organisers but may increase costs. Delivery pizza is a staple of many Uni groups. If you choose to order pizza make sure you check how many gluten free and vegan pizzas you need. Remember that pizza is not very healthy and may not suit all your attendees, so it might be good to also order healthier options.

Event-specific suggestions

Speaker Events with Refreshments After

Offer finger foods. You can offer tea, coffee, juice, or fruit squash/cordial. Cordial lasts much longer than juice once opened, so it can be reused. If suitable, you could offer beer or wine at the event.

Longer Events

For events like workshops and co-working sessions hot drinks can create a cosy and comfortable vibe - remember to offer caffeine-free drinks as well.

It might be good to have some finger foods if the event is between meals, but for longer events you will probably need to offer a full meal. If you are short on volunteers, try arranging a meal that can be served cold, so you can have the meal delivered or cooked before the event begins.

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