Once again, tis the season for holiday entertaining and the sinking economy need not be a stumbling block for any celebration. The following party planner primer has been developed to help make your preparations simple and your party a success!
As you begin to plan your party, consider the following questions before deciding on location, guests, food and entertainment. If you’re hosting with others, be sure to get together well ahead of time and decide the responsibilities. Plan a final meeting closer to the party to make sure you’ve covered everything.
A Casual or Formal Occasion?
A holiday party with friends and family? A gathering of extgended family? A Superbowl game? A baby shower? A birthday celebration? The occasion is the starting point that will set the tone for your event.
When and Where?
Will the party be at your home, a rented room, a freiend’s house or a neighborhood park? What time of year is the event? What time of day? Indoors or outdoors? The location and setting will help you decide how many people to invite.
Your closest friends? Your relatives? Your co-workers? Are your guests adventurous or conservative? Are they health conscious? Any vegetarians? What are the ages? Will there be children included? The number of guests and their preferences will lead you to the right menu selections.
What’s The Budget?
The amount of money you plan to spend will help determine the number of guests and an appropriate menu. Whether you’re serving coffee and dessert or an elaborate five-course dinner, there are many options available to fit any budget.
A small, informal get-together among friends may simply require a phone call or e-mail. A lager or more formal gathering usually calls for a printed or handwritten invitation. Be sure to include the essentials: occasion, date, time, location, attire and response required. “R.S.V.P” ensures a response, while “Regrets only” may result in a less accurate head count.
The next step is selecting your menu. Watching a game with a few friends lends itself to drinks and snacks. A seated dinner should begin with a salad or appetizers, followed by a main course and dessert. A larger gathering may call for a buffet-style meal or heavy hors d’oeuvres.
Plan The Main Course First
A standing rib roast or smoked turkey is perfect for a seated dinner. If it’s a picnic, perhaps custom subs and buffalo-style chicken wings are the way to go. For heavy hors d’oeuvres, try a selection of platters, such as fruit and cheese or a round pumpernickel with spinach dip.
Make Sure Flavors Go Together
Be sure to balance the meal with strong and mild flavors. A strong main dish needs a mild side, while a boldly flavored side can complement a subtle main dish. A rich, heavy meal calls for a light dessert and visa versa.
Mix Up The Temperatures
Serving foods at a combination of temperatures will not only free up your oven but will also add variety to your menu. Mix cold platters with warm tasty foods. You might even add items served best at room temperatures like some delicious mini danishes and rugalach.
Consider The Time of Day and Year
A late-night party calls for smaller portions than a 7 p.m. gathering. Season and location are also important factors. Chili wouldn’t be appropriate on a hot summer day, nor would ice cream on a cold, winter night.
Calculate Serving Sizes and Portions
Ordering and purchasing the right amount of food is one of the trickiest parts of entertaining. As a rule of thumb, always plan for a little more than you think will actually be consumed. A few leftovers will give you something to enjoy after the party. Taking your guests’ preferences into consideration, use the following guide to calculate how much food to serve:
Appetizers: 4 to 5 per/hour
Fruits/Vegetables: 1/2 - 2/3 cup
Meat/Poultry/Seafood: 4 to 8 ounces, uncooked
Side Dishes: ½ cup, per side dish
Salad: 1 to 1-1/2 cups
Sauces/Dips/Dressing: 2 to 3 tablespoons
Soups: ¾ to 1 cup
The following video, Lucy & Ricky have dinner with Tallulah Bankhead, courtesy of You Tube.