Every Friday for the next few weeks, we're talking entertaining and event planning! Whether you're interested in event design, or you've been recruited to help a best friend with wedding planning, or perhaps you just love parties (like me!), we'll chat about all things celebratory, and how to throw a beautiful event! We talked about finding inspiration for your fabulous party last week, and once you've got your theme, it's time to talk food, yum! I don't know about you, but I love to try out new recipes! Sometimes among the busy schedules and to-do lists, there's not enough time to craft a 4 course meal, make sure the house is clean, table is set, and the candles are lit, so what's a hostess to do? Well, let's take a look at how to put together a delicious yet time-saving and stress-free menu!
Every good celebration should have some amazing food (and cake too, but we'll save that topic for later!) so there's a quick three-step checklist I like to refer to when choosing what to serve.
The first thing to consider is your party's theme. Is there a traditional dish that comes out every year, a particular holiday treat you're just waiting to try, or a favorite of the guest of honor (if there is one)? If it's a certain holiday you're celebrating, it's often fun to align your menu to the day, or if you're hosting a party in celebration of someone, it's a good idea to consult with them to make sure you have their favorites on hand! Also, consider the amount of guests, as well as any food allergies you need to be aware of. Nowadays, there's plenty of meal options for people who have particular conditions, and it's good to find out ahead of time if you need to be aware of any dietary restrictions!
Next, you should think about the time of your swanky soiree. If it's a brunch, you probably are going to lean more towards a breakfast buffet, and not want a bunch of heavy hors d'oeuvres and a soup. Also, as a host, consider the amount of time you'll have to prepare. If you're waiting until the day of to get the food preparation finished, you'll want to streamline your menu, in order to get items purchased and ready in time. Timing is everything!
Finally, consider your budget. If you're investing in fabulous decor, then perhaps you'll want a simple menu, rather than a 4 course meal, or if you're hosting a tasting party, you'll want the food to be the main investment. Expensive doesn't always equal better, and often times a simple meal can be just as suitable and delicious as a costly, catered event.
Once you've gone through the checklist, and narrowed down your choices, think about any items that you could easily save a little time by picking up. Personally, I enjoy choosing a special dessert item from a local bakery, rather than making that myself, as it not only supports local business, but also makes it easier for me to focus on other details of my party. For certain events, I have chosen to purchase the entire entree from a local gourmet market, or a particular appetizer to add to the spread. Don't feel as though you are required to slave away in the kitchen for hours, preparing the perfect meal; let's be real, most of us don't have the luxury of taking an entire day to make food (if you do, that's fantastic!), so pick up what you need, artfully arrange it in your own dishes (remember, people eat with their eyes first, so presentation is everything!), and no one will know that you didn't work all day long to cook up something fabulous. That can be our little secret! (wink, wink)
Next week, we'll chat favorite recipes (yay!), and I might have a few stories of things that went right, as well as one or two recipes that didn't quite turn out as planned, and how to handle it!