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When thinking about what to serve and how to serve it, consider the following:

The timing and schedule of the event: There are certain times of day when food is expected; for example, at an early morning business meeting. On the flipside, there are times when it is not economical to serve food: if a multi-day event wraps up at 5 pm, many attendees will be tired and would rather head home or to the airport then remain around for a dinner. 

The social aspect of meals and breaks:  Receptions or cocktail hours are prime opportunities for people to mingle. More focused conversations, in contrast, can be encouraged by holding a sit-down dinner; assigning each table a topic or affinity is an especially effective way to do this.

The appeal of free food: Serving food almost always helps increase attendance. Your event is one of many contenders vying for the time and attention of MIT students, faculty, and staff. Make it clear that food will be offered by noting this in your event's publicity (e.g.  "refreshments will be served" or "reception to follow.")

The purpose of the food:  Think about whether your guests will be need sustenance to power through long days or whether they'll be eating simply because there is an opportunity to do so. If you're holding an event in the late afternoon, for example, you're not trying to replace lunch or dinner. In such a case, it's great to serve people a treat they might not ordinarily get.

The cost of the food: There's no need to make every meal high-end, but adding touches such as protein items at breakfast or something sweet at a coffee break will take your refreshments up a notch for a relatively small cost.

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