The food you choose for your party depends entirely on the theme, occasion & venue. Once you have these three things sorted you can then decide on the food (And drink) you will serve your guests.
Here are my top tips for planning party food whatever the occasion.
Whether you are a star baker or prefer to hit the Tesco cake aisle, serving afternoon tea is a really lovely catering alternative and ideal for afternoon events. We threw my Mum a little afternoon tea birthday party this year with a mixture of home made and shop bought cakes & scones presented on pretty cake plates and stands. Pastries, sandwiches & sausage rolls are great too if you want to add a few savoury options to your selection.
When it comes to drinks, make sure you have tea & coffee flowing throughout the event and don’t forget to offer some soft drinks like fruit juices for those guests who don’t like tea or coffee. If you are pulling out all the stops, why don’t you offer a range of different teas and coffees too?
You might choose to host a traditional barbecue with burgers, sausages and chicken etc. Barbecues are always a hit in the summer for low key birthdays and get together’s and there really is nothing quite like standing in the sun with your mates with a beer in one hand and a burger in the other… according to Sean anyway.
Along with your barbecued food, you will likely have to provide some extras to accompany them. Don’t forget rolls & sauces for your burgers & sausages and fried onions are always nice to have as an option as well as floppy cheese.
A salad table with child & vegetarian friendly foods is also necessary at most barbecues. Simple bowls of flavoured pasta, salad sticks and hummous and things like potatoe salad and coleslaw are favourites of ours.
While a barbecue may seem easy to arrange, there are a couple of draw backs. You are 90% reliant on having good weather, especially if you are limited on inside space. On top of this, someone, likely you, will have to spend a considerate mount of time stuck behind the grill cooking rather than enjoying the party and socialising with your guests.
I’m not sure I have been to many parties where the ever popular finger buffet hasn’t made an appearance at some point, especially those hosted in a hall or pub with lots of guests attending.
These are great, as you can offer your guests a wide variety of different foods to enjoy at your event without comitting time during your party to cook & serve – people just grab a plate when they fancy it.
Foods like chicken nuggets, pizzas, sandwiches and samosas are firm favourites in this kind of spread and while you may not have to cook and serve during the event, it does take time before the party to prepare and present. Allow yourself plenty of time the morning before and maybe ask a few friends to bring a dish to reduce your work load… and expense!
Home / Slow cooked Dishes
A great alternative to barbecues and , hot and slow cooked dishes are ideal for both indoor and out door events where there are around 20 guests. Things like chilli con carne, chicken tikka & vegetable curry are great served with a selection of Naan & Garlic Breads. Alternatively you could cook up some baked potatoes and serve them with your crock pot dishes.
The advantage of this type of catering is that you can throw everything into the slow cooker in the morning & leave it cooking until you’re ready to serve your guests.
Some of the best chidlren’s parties I’ve attended / planned have been themed. While decorations and games are a great way to portray your party theme, don’t forget you could also extend this to your food. Pinterest has lots of ideas for different themed food ideas and over the next few months I will be sharing some ideas of my own and some I’ve seen done by other people.
Catering Vans & Fast Food
It is becoming more and more popular,especially at weddings, to hire food vans as an alternative to traditional catering. Whether you fancy fish & chips, crepes, burgers or ice cream, you will find just the company in your local directory.
Sit Down Meals
When it comes to catering for a dinner party or formal event, it really is a whole different kettle of fish altogether. You will need to plan a versatile menu with two or three options per course to suit all of your guests. I will explore this a little bit more in a separate post, but it might be a good idea to bring in an external caterer, especially if you are providing food for a large number of guests.