April 13, 2008

Party Planning 101: Lesson III

So far you've decided the theme for your party, gotten your guest list together, and sent out your invitations. Now is the time to start pulling all the details together. Obviously this step is different for every party depending on the type and formality of party and the timeline that you are working with. Today I will be covering the menu.
This is SO important! If you are planning a large event like a wedding or other banquet event being held outside of your home you will presumably have a catering staff that will help you with menu choices and options. However, it gets tricky when you are planning parties at home and are responsible for the food. Of course if you are having the food catered in the company will very likely help you with the decison making.

There are 3 basic types of serving styles for any party: hors d'oeuvre/appetizer stations, buffet, and plated meals. Generally plated meals are served to the guests and are therefore less popular amongst home dinner parties. Buffet is very common for seated meals and an appetizer buffet is the most popular for smaller more informal gatherings. No matter what menu style you choose to incorporate make sure to plan according to the number of guests that you are expecting and the amount of help you will have making/serving the food. Here are a couple of good steadfast rules to remember when planning your menu:
  • If you're not a chef today, you probably won't be the day of the event either. Stick to recipes and dishes that you are comfortable with making.
  • If you are going to try and serve something new (i.e. time consuming) make sure and pair it will appetizers and sides that are more easily made and that your guests are comfortable with. (Example: If you make an awesome dip that your friends love make that as one of the appetizers and then put your new recipe in with the main meal.)
  • If you will be serving all hors d'oeuvres at your event, the proper amount of food to serve is at least 8-10 pieces per person for an evening affair and 6-8 pieces per person for an afternoon event. (Many people believe that serving hors will cost less money than doing a buffet or other menu. If this is the motivation behind this menu choice please make sure and exhaust all other options first. I've seen too many people run out of food at the hors buffet and guests not get anything to eat - so please plan accordingly and buy enough food!)
Here are some tips for planning your meal table:
  • In addition to planning your menu don't forget to plan your table. If you're hosting a dinner party make sure and do a seating chart (for a small gathering this takes very little time and your guests will appreciate being directed). Make time to set out place cards.
These cards from Martha Stewart Crafts {www.marthastewartcrafts.com} are
pre-made and are just waiting for your guests names!
  • If you've got nice china bust it out! Now's the time to use all that stuff that you registered for.

  • LINENS! Layer them up. Don't be afraid to layer a tablecloth, runner, placemat, and napkin. Layers=Luxe, make your guests feel special. (Side note: If it's new, it needs to be ironed - get those wrinkles out!)

This photo from Country Living {www.countryliving.com} is relaxed & elegant.

I've had this photo saved on my computer for about a year now. I can't remember where I snatched it from, but it really embodies the whole idea of a pulled together dinner party.

  • Don't forget how to set your table. Here are some great guides from Emily Post {http://emilypost.com/}:
Basic Place Setting

Informal Place Setting

Formal Place Setting

1 comment:

  1. you have a delightful blog with great party planning ideas. it makes me want to plan a party. i've got a birthday coming up - maybe i'll plan my own party! :)