It is possible to order catering from the refectory (Sodexo), or from an external caterer.

External Catering

Find out how many people you are expecting, and work out your budget from that.

General guidelines for helping you to do this:

  • Canapés – people will eat an average of 4 canapés each (if they are going on to dinner). If it is just canapés, you will want 8 – 10 bites each.
  • Drink – At a sit down dinner, people will drink ½ a bottle of wine with the meal, and an average of 4 drinks afterwards (including soft).  With canapés, expect people to want 3 glasses of wine.
  • Food – if you are on a tight budget, and doing it yourself, £10 per head will give you a decent 3 courses. If you are asking external caterers to supply dinner, it can range from £20 per head for a very basic buffet, to £100 per head for a lavish 3 course meal with coffee, cheese and table decorations etc.
  • EquipmentUCL has a lot of equipment you can use, but many caterers will be able to supply round tables, cutlery, napkins etc. If you want to source stuff yourself, we recommend Jones Hire for the very pretty and decorative equipment or Rayners for more basic equipment. 
  • Extra charges – most companies will charge you VAT (20%) on top of the basic costs, so add that into your budget. They will also charge you for delivery, staff, and washing up, van hire/petrol costs, so ask for a full quote before you order anything.

If you are not sure how many people will be attending your event, you should always overestimate with the catering, rather than underestimate. Remember larger number means costs will go down per head (as they are spread over more people), and you can often barter for a lower price. Do your shopping, and dig around for bargains. Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts and use any contacts you may have – name dropping will sometimes bring down the price.

If you need further support with this please contact the Student Activities Team on [email protected].


To order catering from UCL, you have to use their external supplier Sodexo who offer tea and biscuits, all the way through to sit down dinners.

  • Union club/society to contact UCL Catering/Sodexo and agree order by contacting [email protected].
  • Sodexo will send the quote for the confirmed, final order to the club/society via email, copying in the Finance Assistant (Clubs and Societies) on [email protected] .
  • The Finance Assistant (Clubs and Societies) will check that the club/society has enough funds to cover the expenditure and that the event has been authorised - make sure that any Event Budget Approval Forms, Risk Assessments and Ticket Requests have all been sent in and approved.
  • The Finance Assistant (Clubs and Societies) will return the order confirmation email sent by Sodexo to UCL Room bookings, copying in [email protected] and the club/society, stating that the order has been approved by the Union, the number of the purchase order to be used in all correspondence and on any invoices.
  • Invoices arising from the purchase order must be sent by e-mail or hard copy to the Finance Assistant (clubs and societies) at the following address: [email protected] or Finance Department, 4th Floor, 25 Gordon Street, London, WC1H 0AY.
  • The club/society will be contacted to authorise the invoice for payment and the invoice will then be paid.

All catering

For any event, you must submit an Event Budget Approval Form to [email protected] so that we can see how much money you are spending from your club or society accounts.

Make sure that you follow the appropriate procedures for spending money and ordering the food (see How to access your Club or Society Account for further details). If you need tickets, then check out the guide on How to organise an Event with Tickets.

It is always necessary to comply with our food health and safety guidelines, no matter how big or small the event.

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