The New Year always means new catering trends and food styles. 2021, however, will mark far more than just a new year with new fads.
As 2020 draws to a close, and we look toward the future, we are filled with hope for a better year. We yearn to connect with loved ones, visit new places, and celebrate the important milestones in our lives.
As restaurants begin to reopen, and celebrations return in all of their glory, we at PartySlate are excited to predict what new catering trends are on the horizon.
While the end of the pandemic is finally in sight, we expect catering and events to maintain certain safety precautions implemented over the last year. Keep on the lookout for single-servings, covered dishes, and sanitary packagings.
As restaurants begin to reopen, and celebrations return in all of their glory, we at PartySlate are excited to predict what new catering trends are on the horizon.”
But that’s not all. We expect 2021 to be a year defined by ingenuity and innovation — after all, caterers and other event professionals spent a long year overcoming challenges and reinventing themselves.
Anticipate creative catering displays and a meticulous attention to detail. Look for new colors and sensory engagement. Of course, keep an eye out for a resurgence of virtual food kits and catering classes. After all, the party is always better when everyone (including out-of-town guests) can attend.
Join PartySlate as we explore the hottest catering trends that we expect to see in 2021. Moreover, check out PartySlate for all of your party-planning needs. Whether you are looking to connect with venues and vendors or simply find inspiration, PartySlate is here to help you celebrate in style.
Here’s to 2021…
Safety Precautions With Food
As the proverb goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” COVID-19 has forced all of us to rethink the way we serve food. Over the last year, caterers and other event professionals have used innovative thinking and problem-solving skills to adapt to the times.
At PartySlate, we’ve seen adaptations on everything from individually served meals to buffet lines. While we remain hopeful that a vaccine is on the horizon and events will return in full capacity, we expect these new safety-precaution trends to continue in 2021 (and even beyond). After all, making guests feel safe and cared for never goes out of style.
1. Buffets With Safety Precautions
Good Gracious! Events keeps the buffet line sanitary with masked servers and separate serving dishes. Of course, sanitary can still be chic. See how glittery face masks complement the surrounding décor.
photographer: Starla Fortunato | planner & caterer: Good Gracious! Events | floral design: Butterfly Floral & Event Design | venue: private residence | lighting, audio, & visual: Pacific Event Services | live animal: Benay’s Bird & Animal Rental | live entertainment: Thematic Productions | rentals: Town & Country Rentals | photo booth: Hashtagphotobooth | cake: Charm City Cakes West | linen: BBJ Linen | beverage: Liquid Catering
My House Events, renowned for supporting local chefs and bringing communities together, believes in using food to make the world a better place. We think this sanitary oyster bar does just that.
photographer: Trevor Ekanger | planner: Elle R. Jae Events | venue: Felicity Church | caterers: My House Events, Salt and Light Pasty Co., Elysian Events Catering, & Meribo
2. Tray Service You Can Trust
Bring the food to your guests — while practicing social distancing — with tray service that features individually-packaged food. Discover how M.Studio Events keeps food on theme with a cohesive branding strategy.
photographer: Michael Jurick Photography | planner: M.Studio Events | design, décor, floral: Diana Gould Ltd | venue: private residence | caterer: Creative Edge Parties | entertainment: Total Entertainment | videographer: Kornfeld Studios | invitations: Alpine Creative Group | drone: Elite Studios NY
3. Sealed (& Stylish) Cocktails
Lidded shots keep the party both sanitary and festive. They’re also a great opportunity for corporate or personal branding. Don’t forget to use a florist like The Style Marc who knows how to maintain a continuous color palette with lavish pink and Champagne-hued floral décor.
photographer: Twah Dougherty Photography | planner: The Revelry Cooperative | design, décor, floral: The Style Marc | venue: Meadow Ridge Farm | caterer: Fig & Pig Catering | entertainment: Honey and Vinyl | rentals: Patina Rentals
4. Covered Cuisine
Glass cloches aren’t just a catering trend; they’re one of PartySlate’s top party and wedding trends for 2021. Le Basque is ahead of the curve with these gorgeous glass domes that make tray-service possible (as well as photo-worthy) during a global pandemic.
Cloches aren’t just for appetizers. We love how these glass domes add drama and beauty to the dining experience. In this case, the cuisine by STYLE Catering, Inc. is just as beautiful as the floral décor.
photos courtesy of & catering: STYLE Catering, Inc. | planning & event design: STYLE Hospitality | floral installation: Andres Aguilar Designs | runner & napkins: Nuage Designs | chargers: Contempo Linen and Event Rental | flatware: Atlas Event Rental | china: Diamonette
These gorgeous mini cakes with glass-dome coverings show us how to celebrate while social distancing. Click to see how other gorgeous dessert spreads by Sweet Guilt & Ktering Desserts at this gorgeous baby-naming celebration planned by LV Event Designs.
photographer: Domingo Cabrera | planner: LV Event Designs | florals: Blake Roses | venue & caterer: Turnberry Ocean Colony | dessert: Sweet Guilt & Ktering Desserts | dessert table: Publisigns | balloons: Party Party Creations | china rental: Different Look | dj: DJ Service International | furniture rentals: Imperial Party Rentals | linen rental: Nuage Designs | production: PSID Group | dessert table pedestals: Tali Tables
RELATED: 21 Party & Wedding Trends for 2021
Clever & Over-the-Top Food Presentation
The events industry knows how to reinvent itself year after year — even during a global pandemic. As weddings, corporate events, and milestone celebrations narrowed in size and capacity, caterers and event planners turned their attention to the details. With that in mind, we anticipate 2021 to be the year where creativity reaches new heights — and every element of a meal is elevated to perfection. Expect to see clever catering displays and stunning food presentations. After all, nothing brings people together like a shared meal. It’s time to shine a spotlight on cuisine.
5. Salad — But Make it Chic
We know we’re not supposed to play with our food, but this salad by MAX Ultimate Food is almost too fun to eat. Of course, when a salad is this delicious, we have to take a bite.
photographer: SLY Photography | planner, design, & dj: Siagel Productions | florals: Petal Pushers | venue: Windsor Club | caterer: MAX Ultimate Food | rentals & linen: PEAK Event Services | ceiling décor: Prop Factory
Who needs Champagne when you can have this deluxe brussel sprout salad by Colette’s Catering & Events? A salad this good is definitely worth toasting.
6. Soup Gets Sophisticated
Forget the traditional bowl. These soup cans by 24 Carrots Catering & Events bring Pop Art sophistication to the first course. We also love how they create an opportunity for personal or corporate branding.
7. Glass Makes Food Levitate
Lucite shelving paired with glass teapots meant more views of the gorgeous surroundings at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort. Click to see how candlelight illuminated this gorgeous beverage display after sunset.
photographer: Stetten Wilson | planning & design: Amorology | florals: Native Poppy | venue: Park Hyatt Aviara Resort | video: Quixotic Wedding | dj: VOX DJs | rentals: Folklore Rentals | tabletop rentals: The Hostess Haven & borrowed BLU | linen: BBJ Linen & Nuage Designs | ribbon: Tono + Co | lighting: Bright Event Rentals | cakes: Hey There, Cupcake! | backdrops: Back Up Backdrops | transportation: La Costa Limousine | film lab: Indie Film Lab | invitation: Roya Seradj | calligraphy: Four Things Paper
We love how this gorgeous dessert by Betty Zlatchin Catering & Events looks like it’s floating in mid air thanks to lucite shelving. Click to see closeups of this wow-worthy dessert spread.
photographer: Rebecca Yale Photography | event design: Kate Siegel Fine Events | florals: Cherries Flowers | venue: Terra Gallery & Event Venue | catering: Betty Zlatchin Catering & Events | stationery: Underwood Letterpress & Yonder Design
Personalized Fare Prepared Just for You
Forget the personal pan pizza of your youth. Expect your personalized cuisine to receive the same care and attention as any gourmet meal.
2021 is the year for individual charcuterie boards and more. It’s time to get personal.
8. Individual Desserts of Our Dreams
Who wouldn’t want a wedding cake all to themself? This gorgeous wedding, planned by Amy Zaroff Events + Design, has us dreaming about dessert (and future catering trends) with these individually-packaged wedding cakes.
photos courtesy of, planner, design, & florals: Amy Zaroff Events + Design | floral: Arts and Flowers | venue: Private Residence | invitations & printed accessories: Two Paper Dolls | rentals: Apres Party & Tent Rental | a/v & live stream: AVEX | entertainment: Élan Artists | specialty décor: Girl Friday & Material Girl Graphics | caterer: D’amico Catering | bar service: A Proper Pour
Viola’s Kitchen Catering & Event Planning certainly knows how to keep everyone at the party satisfied. These individual dessert pies, served in glamorous goblets, make us want to spend a quiet moment alone before rejoining the celebration.
The appetizer spoon is about to get a whole lot sweeter. We are obsessed with these passed dessert bites by Chef CW. Now you can mix and mingle post-dinner without worrying about missing the best course of the meal.
9. Ultra-Chic Charcuterie Boards
Mini charcuterie boards by Elegant Affairs Caterers are perfect for social-distancing in style. Finally, a cheese plate all to ourselves.
AP Events and Catering Inc. turns individual charcuterie boards into a gourmet main course. We especially love how the colorful (and absolutely delicious) cuisine pops against modern dinnerware.
photographer: The Shalom Imaginative | planner: Amiee D’maris | décor, catering, & desserts: AP Events and Catering Inc. | venue: private estate | entertainment: Moses & DJ Khosmo | rentals: Encore Events Rentals | lighting: Lighting Company | linen: La Tavola Fine Linen | shuttle: Beau Wine Tours
10. Small Plates for Big Appetites
11. Champagne — The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Great food — like this party cuisine catered by Unique Catering Design — goes even better with Champagne. Mini Champagne bottles make for great party favors. Of course, we might be tempted to indulge in such a gift before the party’s over.
photos courtesy of & caterer: Unique Catering Design
Rethink the Rainbow With These Unexpected Hues
We tend to take certain things for granted: Wedding cakes are white, strawberries are red. However, 2021 is the year to let go of certain preconceived notions.
Food, as we know it, is about to “try on” some new colors. Look for edgy and original trends in 2021 like black wedding cakes or gold-plated fruit.
For now, it’s time to rediscover what the rainbow has to offer.
12. Midnight Black Wedding Cakes
This black wedding cake by Betty Zlatchin Catering & Events makes us rethink what we know about wedding color palettes. While 2020 may have brought us social distancing and take-home catering, 2021 is the year to try new out new hues.
13. Fruit Worth its Weight in Gold
Backyard Dining is About to Get Delicious
Backyard weddings and other events are more popular than ever. As celebrations move outdoors, it’s time to reimagine al fresco dining.
We expect 2021 to be the year where restaurants come to you in the form of food trucks and where camping “snacks” gets elevated to gourmet cuisine.
14. Bring the Restaurant to You With Food Trucks
At-home birthday parties are more popular than ever. As such, caterers are finding new ways to bring the party to you. This birthday party, planned by SPACE EVENTS, turns dining into an interactive experience with a sleek food truck.
photos courtesy of, planner, designer, & caterer : SPACE EVENTS | venue: private residence
15. Pass the Popcorn
Turn the backyard into a campsite with delicious treats around the campfire. These popcorn bags from Blue Plate Catering make us want to linger under the stars. Don’t forget to use the bag as an opportunity for personal branding.
16. S’mores Galore
A campsite — or backyard bash — isn’t complete without a s’mores station. Discover how this s’mores station by Abigail Kirsch Catering complements the camping theme at this outdoor corporate event.
Even weddings can benefit from a campfire and s’mores station. Occasions Caterers made this tented wedding celebration a memorable affair with delicious cuisine that culminated with a shared dessert around a toasty fire.
17. Grazing Boxes are All the Craze
South Plainfield, NJ
While these Diwali Treasure Boxes by Sukhadia Caterers are gorgeous keepsakes that are meant to last a lifetime, they inspire us to make snacks that are easy to bring with us wherever we go — including the backyard. We expect to see grazing boxes hit the party scene in 2021.
photo courtesy of & caterer: Sukhadia Caterers
Ceci of Ceci New York is a renowned trendsetter in the events industry. So it’s no surprise that her son’s social-distanced outdoor birthday party was filled with one creative idea after another. We especially love these tackle boxes filled with delicious snacks awaiting guests at their own personal campsites. Click to see more exciting trends from this innovative celebration.
photographer: Andreas & Nico | design, event branding & watercolor art: Ceci New York | décor: Aramat Events | venue: private residence | lighting & mc: Jacobco Creative | catering & cake: Personal Touch Catering Experience | linen & masks: Cake Power NYC | furniture: RentQuest | picnic tables: Smith Party Rentals | photo booth: Shake and Share Media | balloon art: Balloon Design Studio | outdoor movie screen: Hollywood POP Gallery | virtual video: VidHug | camp bags: Love Reusable Bags | signage cut-outs: Bombshell Graphics | wristbands: Boundary Bracelets | blankets: LB Squared | popcorn: Kettlecorn Capital District | fish donuts: Glaze Artisan
Freedom to Move With Handheld Fare
As much as we love sit-down dinners, we are excited to see how the classic cocktail hour is influencing meals across the country. Outdoor celebrations and social-distanced gatherings mean caterers are thinking outside the box (or in this case, the dinner table).
Handheld fare allows guests to mingle freely while enjoying delicious cuisine. Talk about a move in the right direction.
18. Beyond the Ice Cream Cone — Savory Delights
Who says cones are just for ice cream? Renowned trendsetter Wolfgang Puck Catering – Houston takes salad to new dimensions with these stylish paper cones. We have to admit, they look good enough to eat.
This Great Gatsby-themed birthday party, planned and designed by KeAira Chantell Events, brings Art Deco back to the 21st century. It also wows with delicious cuisine, including these mac & cheese cones. Finally, this beloved side dish gets dessert status.
photographer: Imagery by Jules Photography | planner & design: KeAira Chantell Events | floral design: The Simon Design | venue: Loft on Bayshore | desserts: Deja vu Sweets | cake: Sweet Treats by Nathalie | caterer: Sensory Delights Catering | branding & stationery: Papered Wonders | acrylic dessert sticks & acrylic drink stirrers: Ten23 Designs | lighting & dancefloor: MPE Event Group | draping: Just by Design | cinematography: Bricks Group Media
19. Delicious (& Drinkable) Desserts
This dessert by Michael Scott Events might be easy to consume on the go, but it begs to be savored. We especially love how it evokes a cocktail with its chocolate “salted” rim and elaborate garnishes.
photographer: Denis Leon | planner: Hydrangeas & Co. | florals: Konstantinos Floral Design & Décor | venue: Redeemer West Side | caterer: Michael Scott Events | entertainment & games: Total Entertainment | rentals: Something Different Party Rental | furniture: Luxe Event Rentals
We’ll take our martini “shaken, not stirred.” Or in this case, we’ll take this gorgeous fruity dessert (complete with a chocolate-covered pretzel stir stick) by Windows Catering Company just as it is.
photographer: Amy Wu | venue: private residence | caterer: Windows Catering Company
20. A Popsicle Without the Melt
True, cake pops have been around for awhile. However, 2021 is the year where they’re going to be elevated to works of fine art. These gorgeous cake pops are one of many stunning elements at this swan-themed birthday party planned by Valia Rose Events. Click to see more details.
Shared Meals Across the Globe With Virtual Entertainment
Even as in-person celebrations return, we expect to see a component of virtual and hybrid events continue into 2021 and beyond. After all, virtual events allow guests to overcome the obstacles of time and distance.
When it comes to planning a virtual or hybrid event, it’s important to think beyond the Zoom call. Keep guests satiated and engaged with food kits and remote catering classes. Sharing a meal in two different time zones is about to become easier — not to mention, fun.
21. Remote Catering Classes Bring Us Closer Together
Virtual cocktail making classes, like this one by Labaratory by Scarlette, create instant engagement for any virtual event — be it a corporate holiday party, wedding shower, or milestone birthday party. Laboratory by Scarlette also allows you to send cocktail kits to each guest in advance. Sitting in front of the computer has never looked so fun.
photo courtesy of & caterer: Labaratory by Scarlette
22. Bring Guests “Together” With Virtual Meal Kits
This bento box by Constellation Culinary Group has us wishing for that next virtual event. Sharing a meal (especially without the clean up) makes for a more meaningful celebration. We expect virtual meal kits to keep us well fed in 2021.
photo courtesy of & caterer: Constellation Culinary Group
Indulgent Sensory Experiences
We have a new appreciation for taste and smell these days — and it looks like caterers do too. Look for dramatic sensory experiences (along with your dinner) in 2021.
After all, aromas and taste go hand-in-hand. Cue the edible perfumes, warming flames, and scented coasters. After a year of paired down gatherings and late-night dinners over Zoom calls, we’re ready to indulge all of our senses.
23. A Spritz of Delicious
While modern perfumery began in the late 19th century, its origins date back to some of the first human civilizations. After so many thousands of years, perfume continues to evolve. This glamorous cocktail by Constellation Culinary Group (with a spritz of edible perfume) has us ready for 2021.
photographer: Fred Marcus Studio | on-site management: CheckIn Tech | design, décor, & floral: TINSEL Experiential | venue: New-York Historical Society | rentals: Taylor Creative Inc. & Party Rental Ltd. | invitations & print: Alpine Creative Group | caterer: Constellation Culinary Group | entertainment: On The Move | fundraising technology: Sophist, Text-to-Pledge®
24. Ice & Smoke
We always love cocktails with a twist. This summer dinner soirée, planned by Amanda Price Events, featured an updated Old Fashioned with smoked rum, orange bitters, and Madagascar vanilla bean. Quinn Richard, owner of Cocktail+Creative, tells us how “it’s complemented with a malty, bitter cocoa Guinness ice ball and sealed in a jar to be infused with 100% Nicaraguan ligero tobacco leaves.” The result: “A bold smokey flavor giving this cocktail an alluring sophistication.”
photographer: Theresa Elizabeth Photography | planner: Amanda Price Events | floral: Hummingbird Floral | venue: Infinity Farms | beverage: Cocktail + Creative | videographer:
Elevation Films | caterer: Black Pearl Catering Co. | rentals: Firefly Ambiance, Lovegood Wedding & Event Rentals, & ELEMENT | entertainment: Blue Earth Artists | invitations & print: InvitoBella | hair & makeup: Faces of Virtue
25. A Puff of Scented Smoke
This PartySlate D.C. launch party brought together some of the best vendors in Washington, D.C. and beyond. It also foreshadowed one of our favorite trends we expect to see in 2021. Courtesy of The Liquor Laundry, guests were instructed to lift their custom coasters which released a puff of scented smoke from each whiskey-based cocktail.
photographer: Theo Milo Photography | planner: Magnolia Bluebird design & events | décor: Syzygy | florals: White Magnolia Designs | venue: The LINE Hotel DC | entertainment: Élan Artists | videographer: Monachetti | lighting: Frost DC | rentals: Emerson James Rental | linen: La Tavola Fine Linen | invitations: Saima Says Design | greenery & foliage: Twigz Studios | photo booth: Snap! Entertainment | calligraphy: Meant to Be Calligraphy | scent: Blue Flower | hair: Bridal Hair by Remona & Noufal HairColor Studio | makeup: Nour Kazoun, Makeup Artist | liquor: The Liquor Laundry | alcohol: Mezcal El Silencio, Kikori, GH Mumm, Absolut Elyx, & District Distilling
Cheers to Creative Cocktails
You may be sensing a theme here. 2021 is the year where creativity reaches new heights — both with catering and other celebratory trends. With that in mind, we look forward to seeing the art of bartending continue to flourish.
Expect craft cocktails to benefit from unique garnishes and mimosa stations to experiment with new flavors. There will be so many reasons to toast as in-person gatherings come back. So why not do it in style?
26. Go for Unique Garnishes
27. Mimosas With Options
Of course, Mimosas never go out of style. However, 2021 is the year for trying new flavors. Double points for matching your mimosa station with your décor (like this one by Colette’s Catering & Events).
photographer: Julia Lukash Photography | planning & design: Beijos Events | florals: Third + Park | rentals: Sweet Savage Rentals | tabletop, candles, & bags: The Little Market | caterer: Colette’s Catering & Events | invitations & details: POPPYjack Shop | macrame details: The Neutral Knot | balloons: The Pop Shop | champagne & wine: ONEHOPE Wine
28. Think Outside the Glass
At PartySlate, we are always on the lookout for creativity and innovation. This unique take on the mixed drink by Ram Caterers has us ready to be our own bartenders (especially if it comes with tray service).
photographer: Anée Atelier | design, décor, & floral: Birch Event Design | venue: Gotham Hall | caterer: Ram Caterers | graphics: ABC | videographer: Le Reve Films | rentals: Luxe Event Rentals | entertainment: On The Move
Occasions Caterers always know how to bring innovation to a party. Without a doubt, these colorful cans with elaborate fruit garnishes are Instagram-worthy. We also love how kids get to partake in the festivities with alcohol-free options.
See a Catering Trend You’d Like at Your Next Celebration?
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Planning a party has never been easier — or more fun.