A selection of craft information for artisans of the HFS.

    How To Run A Feast Without Hurting Yourself And/Or Getting Executed For Treason

    Dame Katrin Karlsdottir
    Dame Katrin Karlsdottir

    Posts : 28
    Join date : 2011-06-02
    Age : 51

    How To Run A Feast Without Hurting Yourself And/Or Getting Executed For Treason Empty How To Run A Feast Without Hurting Yourself And/Or Getting Executed For Treason

    Post  Dame Katrin Karlsdottir on Thu Jun 02, 2011 7:02 pm

    So you want to run an HFS feast, eh? I've been doing that for a while, on
    and off. There are a bunch of things to consider, but if you're just planning a plain
    catered feast with nothing too unusual — which is the best idea, at least for
    your first one — then it becomes reasonably simple.

    Find out: Would I make a good head
    cook? What kind of feast would I like to prepare? What should I serve? Where do
    I look for period recipes? How do I tell which recipes work well for a feast?
    How much food should I buy? How do I make sure everything is done at once? How
    much help do I need? When would I start to plan? Will anyone like it? Where do
    I get unusual ingredients? How do I establish a budget? What do I need to do
    after the dishes are washed? What are brown blobs, and why are they bad?

    Here's my list of instructions.


    First, decide on a date. Check for clashes. Make sure there's nothing
    on locally or in the nearby groups:

    Now, choose a venue. You need to take into account location, price,
    size of the kitchen and other former stewards' experiences. For example, avoid
    the mumble mumble Club Hall because they keep accusing us of damaging
    their pool table so they don't have to give the bond back; avoid the mumble
    mumble Community Center because their kitchen is the size of a shoebox; and
    so on. Ask around the local group for advice on this.

    Then, assemble a team. If you're like me, cooking is a dark art best
    left to those who can locate the business end of a turnip without a map; so you
    need a Head Cook. The Head Cook will need, at minimum, a couple of kitchen
    . You will also want a couple of people to help with setting up
    and more, different people, to help with tearing down at the end of the
    night. Finally, you'll want a couple of doorkeepers to take money at the

    At Least Two Months Before

    At least two months before, you should prepare a budget, which
    basically looks like this:

    Name of Event
    Date of Event

    Venue Deposit (refundable)
    Venue Hire (non-refundable)
    Food (per head)

    Ticket Price – members
    Ticket Price – non-members

    Calculate your break-even point, thus:

    P = H ÷ (T – F – K)


    P = the number of people you need
    to break even
    H = the venue hire fee (the non-refundable part)
    T = the ticket price for a member
    F = the cost of food for one person
    K = the Kingdom levy, $1 per person

    In other words, the number of people you need to break even is your fixed
    costs divided by the total profit per person. Your fixed costs are usually just
    the venue hire fee; your profit per person is your ticket price less the cost
    of food and the Kingdom levy. Calculate that and you'll know the minimum number
    of people you need to entice along to avoid making a truly stupid loss.

    The Kingdom levy of $1 per person doesn't actually get paid on a
    feast-by-feast basis; instead, the barony pays a lump sum to save having to do
    lots of extra calculations for every event. But it's sensible to factor it in
    anyway, since it has to come from somewhere.

    Generally, 30 people is a reasonable number for a feast. If your break-even
    number is less than that, your tickets are probably too expensive and you
    should lower the price. If the break even is much more than fifty or sixty,
    you'll need to do some serious advertising to get that many people through the
    door, so you should aim instead to reduce your costs, generally by cutting the
    amount you spend on food, or else increase your ticket prices slightly. Discuss
    this with the Seneschal if you're not sure how to make the numbers work.

    Talk to the Chancellor to make sure you're not doing something
    impossible, like budgeting two dollars a head for a six-course dinner and
    holding it in the Great Hall of Parliament House at a cost of ten thousand
    dollars for the night. Also, sort out the details of your booking policy and
    how you'll be tracking the financial side of things.

    Book the venue and pay the deposit.

    Give details to the Populace Include all the relevant details: the
    venue, dates, ticket prices, steward and booking contact details (email and
    phone) and a short, plain-English description of the event. Plain English is
    If you find yourself starting the description with "Good
    Gentles All!" or referring to it as a "missive", go have a drink
    and a lie down and try again later.

    At Least A Month Before

    Get a funds for food: work it out at Price Per Head multiplied by a
    reasonable guess at likely attendance figures. Assume three times the number
    who've booked by this time, or 40, or some number that you and the Reeve agree
    on. Give the cheque to your Head Cook (this would be a good time to find out
    their mundane name, since most banks won't cash cheques to "Lord Ethelred
    the Loquacious"). Most food will be bought a day or so before, but if your
    cook has the opportunity to shop around for non-perishable specials well in
    advance, it's no bad thing.

    Contact local officers and make sure they or their deputies will be
    at the event. Generally you need the constable, the chirurgeon and the herald,
    or their proxies. If the B&B are planning to run court, or the royalty are
    coming along, you need to make sure the herald is well in the loop.

    Keep the Head Cook informed of numbers. Bookings are tricky beasts;
    sometimes everyone books, sometimes no one does. Ask other stewards for advice,
    and be prepared to hold your nose and wing it. Most Lochacian branches
    have enough money that they can afford the occasional loss, but that's no
    excuse to go in blindly and stuff up badly. You'll only go wrong if you lose
    track of the details, so Don't Do That Then.

    Advertise online on the local and Lochacian mailing lists. Remember
    to mention the date and the (mundane) location!

    The Week Before

    Close bookings. Let people know they can still book, but their
    tickets will be non-refundable, and they may not get fed if there's a sudden
    run on places. Give the Head Cook the final (ha!) numbers... and then update
    them daily as people call in at the last minute saying "what, was that
    this weekend?".

    Ensure the Head Cook has enough money and help. Liaise with the reeve
    for the former and your friends and household for the latter. The barony cares
    more about having a fun time than about everything going precisely as planned,
    so be flexible and it will work out.

    Remind the Head Cook to keep all receipts. You need to make the
    numbers balance. If there are any missing, you need a record of what was spent,
    where and why; no need to notarise or sign Stat Decs, but try to be accurate at

    On The Day

    Get there early and set up with plenty of time. If any of your team
    don't show up, hunt them down and kill themcall in friends and household
    members to help out. Setup always takes longer than you expect.

    Be sure your doorkeepers have everything they need. That means:

    • A lockable cashbox, with a
    • All the receipt books.
    • The complete list of prices
      and all the various exceptions for College members, families, children and
      so on.
    • Several biros to write with: not
      felt pens
      because felt pens run badly when drinks get spilled, and
      they don't carry through the carbon paper in receipt books.
    • A list of everyone who's
      booked, arranged by mundane surname because that's the part that's least
      likely to get messed up or forgotten.
    • Any waivers and sign-in forms
      provided by the constable, if they agree to look after that aspect as well
      — remember, officially it's the constable's job to get waivers signed, and
      the stewarding team's job to take money, so the two jobs should be done by
      a single person only with the agreement of all parties: don't assume!

    Everyone should be given a receipt, and it should include the payer's
    name, the date, how many members and non-members the payment is for, and the
    total amount.

    If anyone writes a cheque, get them to put their phone number on the back.
    This is so that, if the financials take a bit longer than expected and the
    steward (that's you) doesn't deposit the cheques the very next Monday morning,
    then nobody needs to be surprised by sudden bank fees.

    Also, you need two doorkeepers, not one. Why? Because otherwise there
    will come a time when punters are queuing impatiently at the door while your
    one-and-only troll sits in the dunny with the cashbox balanced on her lap...
    and that's not a good look.

    DON'T LEAVE SITE! If you need something, delegate someone else to get
    it. A feast is a symphony, and you're the conductor; if the wind section
    doesn't know which direction to look to find you, they'll probably start
    twiddling off on their own and playing Wagner, and that's never a good

    Keep note of who's helping; it's useful for your report.

    On that topic, children make good servers, past the age of eight or
    so, and they're usually the ones hanging around with nothing to do, so make use
    of them.

    Get some bread out on the table early. Bread is a good cheap way to
    take the edge of everyone's hunger, so they don't storm the kitchens when the
    first course is five minutes late. It also helps soothe fractious and fussy
    kids (except the gluten-intolerent ones) and guarantees that they get something
    to eat at least.

    In general, actually running the event is the easy part. Make sure the door
    is manned and the money is being looked after; listen to people's comments,
    especially about the food, and make sure the Head Cook is getting enough
    support so that people get fed before they start to flake. Balance the Tin
    Hats' "requests" with some sense of reality, and don't just do as
    you're told all the time — that way lies chaos.

    Finally, when the event is over, hand over to your take-down team, make sure
    the place is tidier than when you arrived, and be there to turn out the lights
    and lock the doors. Then go home and collapse for twelve hours.


    Don't leave the reporting too late. You will forget something! The
    next morning is ideal. I have run feasts at which I presented the Reeve with
    the final financial reports during the feast, because I had a laptop and
    a printer with me, but I'm a known showoff and you don't need to emulate that.
    Although the look on Adair's face made it all worthwhile...

    Deposit all cheques immediately! Any cheque that has been sitting in
    your cashbox for more than a week should be considered suspect, because our
    populace are not all millionaires and unpresented cheques have a habit of
    bouncing if they're forgotten about. Your doorkeepers, if they followed the
    advice above, will have written phone numbers on the back of each cheque; use
    them if necessary to confirm that the money's still in the account if you're
    late depositing them. Or better still, don't be late depositing them.

    Get the deposit back from the venue and make sure everything was
    tidied up to their satisfaction.

    Present all receipts, receipt books, takings and sundry other financial
    details to the reeve, along with a financial report explaining
    everything you spent (expenses), all money you took in (income) and the precise
    difference between the two totals (profit or loss). Remember to count the venue
    deposit twice — once as an expense when you paid it, and once as income when
    you get it back.

    Oh, and don't forget to thank everyone who helped.

    And that's about it. Follow these instructions and I'm reasonably sure you
    won't hurt yourself or get executed for treason. In fact, if you do get
    executed for treason as a result of following these instructions, I will
    personally send apologies to your next of kin upon receipt of a death certificate.
    You can't get a better offer than that!

      Current date/time is Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:07 am