bad finger foods to serve at your planned events

8 “Fake” Finger Foods to Avoid Serving at Your Events

Ah, catering. Whether you’re planning a company’s internal social event or a medium-sized wedding, you’re going to have to put a lot of thought into catering. You first consider what your clients want, cross-evaluate it with their budget, and then bring in your own expertise. Would a 5-course meal suit their event? How about a buffet? Or maybe they decided they just wanted to serve finger foods—and a lot of them!

When you’re pressed for variety, the creative juices start flowing. But sometimes what might look good in your head may not translate well in a busy setting. Ready or not, here are the 8 finger foods you should avoid serving at your events!

1.      Chips!

Greasy fingers… Cheetos dust… ugh! Even if you have more than enough napkins to go around, why are these cheap junk foods being served at all? We’ve heard horror stories of events offering Halloween trick-or-treat chip bags as appropriate snacks for cocktail hour. It may work for a small, informal meeting or social gathering, but not for an important event! If they’re hiring an event planner in the first place, why would they then cheap out on the food—the most memorable part of an event?

2.      Wings

saucy chicken wings are bad choices for appetizers at a fancy event

It’s true: individual wings are finger-food sized. But you should really avoid this as best you can. Even if it’s a southern event! Here’s why:

  • The wings will probably be fried in some way. Fried foods don’t taste that great when they are made ahead of time. Unless your caterer is frying food on site, it’s best to avoid these foods.
  • Dressing up wings means having many different types of sauces on hand… which can get super messy!
  • Fried foods are heavy! It’s okay to have a couple fried options, but having many finger foods that are heavy on the grease may translate to guests slipping into a food coma early into the event.

3.      Mini-sloppy Joes

You’d think this didn’t need mentioning… well, you’d be wrong! Unless your sloppy Joes are the size of a penny, their capacity for messiness should not be underestimated. This meal is notorious for being sloppy and heavy. Guests, whether they are decked out in tuxedos and floor-length gowns or simple blazers and blouses, won’t appreciate saucy food that may ruin their clothes.

4.      Shelled Nuts

avoid shelled nuts because it's not easily accessible and potential allergies

Shelled nuts are indeed cheaper than their stripped-down alternatives. But it’s not easy to access or immediately satiating like finger foods are supposed to be. Imagine having a bowl of walnuts. You would then need to provide each person individual nutcrackers so they can even access their foods! This can get pretty expensive, and also poses a safety hazard for younger guests. It’s a lot of arm work, and frankly, people will probably avoid them altogether.

5.      Foods in their own containers

What does saucy meatball pasta in a cup have in common with Thai coconut soup shooters? Their clunky containers! While these may present well, they also come with a lot more work. If the finger foods are served station-style, guests load up on everything on a single plate. Then, they have to decide which of the container-dependent apps they could return to their table in one piece. Besides, more cups means more dishes and more wait staff to distribute and collect them!

6.      Puff pastry

Easy on the puff, phyllo-based pastries. Most pastries are small and fit the definition of finger food perfectly. But the crusts tend to flake everywhere! These pesky flakes crumble when you try to get them out, and often leave behind unsightly oil stains. If you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of having a flake seemingly weave itself into the fabric of your outfit, you’d know to avoid these!

7.      Mini buttercream cakes…

buttercream cupcakes are bad choices as food at a wedding before the cake reveal

This item on the list applies to weddings. Firstly, did the happy couple order a buttercream wedding cake? Yes? Then why would you serve mini buttercream cakes as finger food? It doesn’t make any sense! Providing a variety of finger foods to serve different guest tastes is essential when doing finger-food catering. But the wedding cake stands alone in the reception’s programming. Leave out similarly-tasting deserts if your clients want big fanfare when their special cake is later unveiled!

8.      Assembly line

This is a neat idea, but it doesn’t really pan out too well at a medium-large wedding. Some planners—usually not professionals—don’t create multiple lines even for buffets. Imagine having a single file line to assemble your own mini-tacos or sliders. Those who anticipate that they wouldn’t make it back up for seconds could spend an extra long time when it’s finally their turn—creating as many appetizers as possible so they don’t have to line up again. All in all, this is a recipe for disaster.

Bonus tip: Be conscious of preferences and restrictions

don't just serve shellfish as event attendees might have allergies

When serving finger foods, make sure you have a large variety of food and they’re well-labeled. If someone has an aversion to a certain ingredient, they should have other choices! Here are three examples of what you shouldn’t do!

  • Only offering a blue cheese option– not everyone likes super pungent cheese!
  • Only offering a pork option– some people will refuse this due to religious and cultural dietary restrictions
  • Only offering shellfish – allergies, enough said!

Any other “fake” finger foods we missed? Leave a comment!

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