Guest Author - Sandra Lee Garth
Whether youíre planning for a party of five or fifty proper planning makes the process easier. One of the first considerations is the menu. Here are a few tips to keep it simple, affordable and totally stress free.
Planning the menu for your party isnít the time to try complicated or long drawn out recipes. Even the simplest of dishes can be dressed up to look like you slaved over a hot stove all day. Before planning itís always a good idea to inquire of any food allergies among your guests.
Your menu should also include some lower calorie items. They are a good balance to more calorically dense items. Guest in attendance that lean toward healthier lifestyles will greatly appreciate it. The standard veggies tray can include a few different items like jicama which tastes like a cross between an apple and a potato, and pepper strips in red, purple and orange. Serve dips in hollowed peppers or small head of green or red cabbage. Offer bottles of vinaigrette as a healthier alternative to full fat dips.
Take your guests taste buds on an adventure by serving foods with a variety of tastes, temperatures, and textures. Use spices with a light hand and consider fresh herbs as garnishes for some of your platters
Avoid foods that require a knife and fork if your guests will be standing. Accidents can happen and asking a guest to balance a plate and cut their food at the same time is like asking for one to happen. Party foods that can be easily held with one hand are an important consideration as well. Plates with a built in beverage holder are a wonderful option.
The general serving rule for hors d'oeuvres is 5 per person per hour. However, Itís always better to err on the side of having a little more food then whatís actually needed In the event that only hors d'oeuvres are being served, allow at least 10 appetizers for each guest, with no more than five choices.
Even though you want your guests to relax and have fun at your party, you want to do the same. Try to stay within your budget and your available time. If time is at a premium choose items that donít require lots of prep or cooking time. Working some semi homemade magic and presentation is a lifesaver. Salads, sliced cheese, deli meat, olives and dips are available in most grocery store deli sections. Stop at the dollar store and pick up paper products and dinnerware in the any color you wish.
Should you choose to serve a home cooked meal, prepare as much as you can as far ahead as you can. Always keep a running list of what needs to be done and cross off items as they are completed.
If space allows set up food vignettes to help with traffic flow. This also helps guests to mingle more. Use boxes or stacked books (of the same size) to create height for your dishes. Cover them with linen or paper cloths. Serving utensils are absolutely necessary for obvious reasons.
Donít shy away from entertaining because you think it will be a drain on your wallet or time. Delicious food presented well, good friends and a happy host/hostess are the perfect recipe for a great party.