Parties Vivian | 29 Aug 2010 12:26 pm

Food Party Planning – Questions and Answers

I’ve read your article on Food Party Planning, but have some questions. Please answer these for me.

Question: You imply that one can provide a menu savored by all on a limited budget. Please give me some ideas on how to do this.

Answer: Meats are most expensive, but if the occasion isn’t very formal, hamburgers are always a good option. With other meat dishes watch for sales and bargains. Chicken, pork, turkey at various times of the year, can often be purchased inexpensively. When you see a good price buy in quantity. Beans, rice, potatoes and corn make inexpensive side dishes. And don’t forget pasta. You should be able to drinks in large bottles for less money, including sodas and juices. Also, frozen juices requiring you to add water generally are less expensive. And you don’t need alcohol for a good party. Spritzers add a nice touch to juices.

Question: You mentioned asking guests if they have diet restrictions or food allergies. I find it awkward and I don’t want to embarrass anyone. Any suggestions as to how this can be done comfortably?

Answer: Yes. Put the question into your printed invitations. State “please let me know about any food allergies or diet restrictions.” Then request an RSVP.

Question: You suggest checking out a number catering options, but my time is limited. Is it practical to do this without consuming a lot of time?

Answer: Yes. Look up various local caterers in your yellow pages, but rather than calling them, type their names into Google and see if they have websites. Most do, and generally you can learn a lot regarding the choices they offer online. You can also type in “Local caterers” or “[your city] caterers”.

Question: Do you have any further suggestions about cleanliness and making sure you avoid food borne illness?

Make sure your vegetables are fresh. Also, in addition to pre-cooking pork well, use well-cooked eggs in salads or appetizers. Use fresh condiments and keep them and other cold dishes refrigerated until ready to serve. Don’t let them sit out in the sun for lenthy periods of time, or all evening if an evening party. Keep dishes covered.

Question: You suggest asking for help with food preparation. However, I fear imposing upon people. How can I get the help I will need?

Answer: One thing that works is from the very start see if you can get others to co-host the party with you. If they agree, then it should be understood that party preparation, including food, is a shared responsibility. In other words have this understanding from the beginning. Again, let me emphasize, there is really no need to be shy about asking for help. Many people will be more than glad to pitch in, and if someone can’t help out, fine; ask the next person.

Question: Can you give me help calculating food quantities for a large party?

Answer: General guidelines for a dinner party are one pound of food per person and 1/4 pound of snacks. For appetizers figure 5 each hour per guest for the 1st two hours and after that 3 each hour for each guest. This is referring just to the time prior to the meal, unless appetizers and drinks are the full menu. For drinks allow 2 sodas for each person or 12 ounces of punch. At a cocktail party plan on 2 drinks each for the 1st 2 hours and 1 drink each hour thereafter.

Question: You talk about time management and a timeline. Please give more details.

Answer: Time management requires being organized wherein you allow sufficient time to prepare everything for both you and your helpers without having to work under excess pressure. Establishing a timeline suggests making a written schedule for when everything is to be prepared and by whom. Be sure to double-check with your helpers to make sure your schedule is realistic.

Hopefully these answers will provide enough details so that your food preparation will not be stressful for you and will result in a menu that is both healthy and a delight to your guests.

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