Planning your party menu


Keep your party theme and your venue in mind when planning the menu for your next get-together.

MS — Many partygoers admit that they often look forward to foods served during social gatherings. The way to a man’s heart may be through his stomach, but the same sentiment can be applied to both male and female guests invited to your next soirée. While it might not be possible to please everyone’s palate, the following are some food factors hosts should keep in mind as they prepare to throw their next party.

Consider your party theme and size. Food choices should fit with the type of event you are hosting. A three-course formal meal probably will not complement an afternoon watching the game with friends, nor would it work well when you’re on a time crunch before seeing a show. Take into consideration the party you will be hosting and make sure the foods you choose work in conjunction with other details of the festivities. Finger foods are ideal when guests are mingling, while a more formal sit-down meal is more appropriate when you want to engage guests in conversation.

Calculate how much food you need. It’s always better to have extra food than a shortfall of it, but it’s best to find the right balance to avoid costly excess and waste. Many caterers offer approximations regarding how many people a tray or platter of food will feed. You can use these estimates as references for the food you will be preparing as well. Keep in mind that serving sizes are only a few ounces for many foods. Guests who are drinking plenty of beverages also may feel less hungry.

Provide a variety of foods. While you can’t offer everyone’s favorite dish, you can vary your offerings so that guests are more likely to find something they will enjoy. Stick to crowd favorite foods and use spices or ethnic offerings sparingly. Offer vegetables, a starch such as rice or potatoes, a lean meat or poultry, and perhaps a seafood dish. Ask guests to let you know if they have any food allergies, making sure to prepare all dishes separately so there is no risk of cross-contamination. Separate offerings when serving as well so guests do not mistakenly use a serving spoon that might be contaminated with something they are allergic to.

Make items in advance. Hosting a party requires hosts to take on several different roles. Hosts don’t want to spend the party serving and preparing dishes in the kitchen while their guests are having fun. Whenever possible, choose dishes that can be prepared and refrigerated or frozen in advance of the party. Such dishes can then be reheated the day of the party, saving you time and making sure you get to spend some quality time with your guests. Store-bought appetizers or side dishes can help you focus on the main courses and free up some extra preparation time.

Know your guests. If your guest list tends to include the same people again and again, you have likely grown accustomed to their culinary preferences. If that’s the case, choose dishes you know will be a hit, which can save you the headache of planning a menu.

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