As guests become more and more health conscious and caterers experiment with unusual dishes and ways to serve them, menu signage has become increasingly important at events. And strategic planners are using cards, labels, and other items as an opportunity to emphasize a theme, brand identity, or message. From lipstick-penned mirrors to comic book call-outs, here are some clever ways to incorporate the signage for hors d'oeuvres, buffet offerings, and food stations into the look and feel of a live experience.
The book party for Ben Mezrich’s Seven Wonders, held at the W Boston in September, featured food station signage inspired by vintage postcards and stamps from the locations mentioned in the adventure novel. The food labels were accented with world atlases to complete the look.
Photo: Courtesy of W Boston Hotel
Passed hors d'oeuvres, like deviled eggs, were served on slate boards with item names written in chalk for an event at the Breakers Mediterranean Courtyard during the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival in December 2013.
Photo: Lila Photo
At Thinkery's Imaginarium gala, held in Austin in September, vintage games and throwback toys popped up throughout the “Playing It Forward”-theme event, including classic Slinkies as part of the hors d'oeuvres presentation.
Photo: Nadia Chaudhury/BizBash
A vintage TV display advertised series-inspired cocktails at the ATX Television Festival in June.
Photo: Nadia Chaudhury/BizBash
Great Performances decorated the dessert table to look like a boudoir for the opening night after-party for New York City Opera's Anna Nicole production, held at Skylight One Hanson in September 2013. The menu was written in red lipstick on vanity mirrors, and presented alongside jewelry boxes and glass jars filled with chocolate truffles, pink meringues, and candy lips, plus cones of pink cotton candy.
Photo: Elena Olivo
Taking inspiration from comic books, the dessert table at the Shiraz Events-designed Unicef Masquerade Ball in 2012, held at New York's Angel Orensanz Foundation, included bright, action-packed signs to play off the superhero theme.
Photo: Sean T. Smith
At the annual Rammy awards gala, held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in June, food pavilions made from pallet wood were covered in chalkboards that featured the each station's sponsor and the menu items in decorative writing.
Photo: Tony Brown/imijphoto.com for BizBash
At The Knot's “Knot-so-Typical Industry Event” at Miami's Studio 743 in January 2013, servers from Hugh's Catering wore apple-shaped food signage on their foreheads and were encouraged not to speak during the surrealist-theme party.
Photo: The LXA
At the Chefs’ Tribute to Citymeals-on-Wheels, held in June at the ice rink in Rockefeller Center, lampposts with the names of the chefs and dishes helped guests navigate the food and drink stations.
Photo: Shelbie Pletz/BizBash
For Unicef's Adventures in Wonderland Masquerade Ball, held at Marquee in New York in October, apothecary jars filled with sweets tempted guests with "Open Me" tags and the name of the candy inside.
Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Unicef
At the Museum of Science & Industry’s Black Creativity gala in Chicago in January 2013, Sodexo presented hanging terrariums of flavored salts—including red chili, pink Hawaiian, smoke, and rosemary—that were designated with labeled stones.
Photo: JB Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Servers from the Catered Affair wore appetizer badges with food allergy information, in case guests couldn't hear over the band performances, at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay's “Big Night” event at House of Blues Boston in February 2013.
Photo: David Fox Photography
By Michele Laufik for BizBash