After picking a date and time, the first step to party planning is creating a guest list. Is it dinner for 10 special friends, a family dinner, or a cocktail party for 24? And — particularly for less-experienced party planners — how can you create a memorable event without being overwhelmed with both the costs and the work involved?
What you may need...
For ease in serving (as well as cooking and hosting) a big dinner or party, consider buffet service utilizing stainless steel or copper chafers. Chafers can hold (and keep warm) a large entrée of roasted turkey and old-fashioned bred-and-celery stuffing, or be divided into smaller sections with foil pans for side dishes such as sweet potatoes and green bean casserole. Don’t forget to include enough serving utensils for each dish as well.
AAYS offers rentals of china in patterns ranging from contemporary solid black to traditional white edged with gold. For an especially pretty presentation for a special event, add a gold- or silver-beaded charger beneath the dinner plates.
Glassware is also available, from iced tea glasses to those for red or white wine, as well as brandy snifters, on-the-rocks glasses or copper mugs for a Moscow Mule.
Many colors of linens (both in-stock and fine linen rentals) are available to add a level of elegance to your event. And don’t forget the flatware. Table and chair rentals are also available for extra seating for larger gatherings (or if the older teenagers in the family are complaining about still sitting at the kids’ table.)
Chafers are also great for cocktail parties, holding hot hors-d'oeuvres such as Swedish or barbecue meatballs, spinach-artichoke dip or maple-bacon water chestnuts.
Large serving trays (along with cocktail napkins, forks and small plates) are ideal for a spread of cold hors-d'oeuvres and desserts.
Food and drink...
Plan a fruit tray with a sweet cream cheese dip, or charcuterie tray that includes soft cheeses such as brie or a cranberry goat cheese along with a selection of sliced hard cheeses (smoked gouda, Havarti) paired with peppered salami, ham, and prosciutto. Sliced meats should be rolled, both for a pretty tray and because it makes them much easier to pick up with a fork or fingers.
Other elements for a charcuterie board can include olives and artichoke hearts, tiny gherkins, roasted red peppers or pickled onions, whatever your taste and pocketbook permit. A few sweet elements — fig preserves, apples and pears, dried fruit and nuts — make a nice contrast to savory meats and cheeses. Include a variety of crackers and thin-sliced breads and a crock of stone-ground mustard.
Another large serving tray can hold finger-sized desserts — mini cannoli, small brownie and cheesecake bars, lemon bars, fancy iced cookies, fudge, fresh fruit, and chocolates. The trays can be filled, arranged and wrapped in the kitchen, or served at the same time. Don’t forget to include cocktail forks, napkins, and plates.
How do I calculate food for a crowd?
Check out these tips at dish.allrecipes.com/cooking-for-a-crowd.
How much beer, wine or liquor do I need for a party?
Martha Stewart offers these recommendations (marthastewart.com/271304/party-calculator):
Wine: One bottle per two people per hour
Beer: Two per person per hour
Spirits: One bottle per five people per hour
Mixers: Three bottles for each bottle of alcohol
Ice: At least one pound per person per hour
Insider tip...save money on alcohol by offering a signature cocktail or eggnog with rum rather than a full bar.
We're hoping you were able to glean some inspiration or new ideas from this article!! Happy holiday party planning!!