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April 20, 2015

Party Food! Easy Menu Ideas & Recipes for Gatherings

As I mentioned last week, I've been getting emails from friends and past clients wanting some menu ideas for upcoming parties they are hosting.  While personally I love smaller dinner parties and get togethers, many big moments in our lives are centered around larger gatherings - open houses, showers and parties.  Even the most seasoned hostess can get a little nervous preparing to entertain 50+ guests.  What kind of food, do I need staff, how much food, how much drink, what kind of decor?

In my catering days I dubbed my business as an Event Planning Co. that specialized in Small to Medium Sized parties in my Clients homes... so, I have lots of answers and solutions for these questions, but I forget to talk about them on the blog because they are a little out of my daily routine now.  I flipped back through the blog (even reached back 7 years!) and pulled some photos from old parties that I did for clients and a couple for myself.  You'll have to forgive the photo quality - most of these photos were taken with my Blackberry very long ago just before I threw off my apron and served drinks to guests.   

Entertaining for our friends is a big part of our life, and I can't wait to get back into the swing when our house is finished in a couple of weeks - it has been something we've really missed.  So, it has been nice for me to look back and relive some of these fun parties. 

Backyard Birthday

I created this event for a client's surprise 30th birthday party for her husband and for 60 guests.  We wanted the event to feel like a casual backyard barbecue that was a little more special than brats on the grill.  The guest of honor was a 30-year-old guy, so we picked all of his favorite foods, but dressed them up a bit.  For example, instead of "potato skins" we made potato canapés out of red potatoes and topped them with bacon, sour cream and chives, and instead of chicken wings, we made buffalo chicken skewers.  This would be a great menu for a high school or college graduation party, too!  More party details, here.

Menu :

- Caramelized Onion & Blue Cheese
- Cheddar & Special Sauce
Buffalo Chicken Skewers
Potato Canapés with Bacon
Bowl of Cherries

Drinks :

White Wine

Ladies Night Patio Party

I hosted this party for about 25 neighborhood girls a couple of years ago.  Everything was made ahead of time and I put the food out in a baskets and on platters to make it relaxed.  I spread the food out - some on the patio, some on the porch and some with the drinks in the kitchen so everyone could sort of graze and mingle.
Get all of the details and recipe links, here.

Menu :

Herbed Shrimp Skewers
Summer Tomato, Olive & Zucchini Bruschetta
Creamy Crab Dip & Veggies
Mini S'mores
White Wine & Peach Sangria

You might remember this setup from last summer - my current favorite easy entertaining menu.

 Menu :

- BBQ & Onion Ring Burgers
- Classic American Cheeseburger
-Watermelon & Tomato Kebabs
-Guacamole Salad & Chips

Get more details and recipes, here.

I used the Privet Berry Folded Cards from my store to label them - always helpful at a party and an easy opportunity to give the food display some color from your theme.

Ladies Open House

This was a party I did for a Mission Hills client almost 7 years ago - I can remember it was the week after Mike and I moved in our first house and I was so thrilled to be able to make everything in my new kitchen.   It was an open house for a group of ladies in May - heavy hors d'oeuvres and cocktails.   Get all of the details, here.
 Menu :

Mini BLTs on Baquette
Mini Grilled Salmon Sliders with Caper Mayo
Artisan Cheese & Berry Platter with Homemade Cheddar Biscuits
Watermelon & Tomato Kebabs (a favorite I guess!)
Veggies & Creamy Corn Dip
Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onion Tarts
Mini BLTs a favorite of the women that night - and the Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onion Tarts.  I think I wrote out the recipe for a few.

I think cute signs always elevate the look of a food display for parties - makes it look a little more planned and professional.  I forgot how cute these were!
These Salmon Sliders were so good - very easy.  I grilled the salmon earlier in the day, then refrigerated it.  I served it on these mini rolls topped with caper lemon mayo.

This is a Game Day Party that I've featured several times on the blog.  I put it together just after we moved to Massachusetts and set it up on our patio.  It would also be a great menu and setup for a graduation party or a birthday.   You can get all of the details from the post, here.

Menu : 

Pulled Pork Sliders
Creamy Spinach with Tortilla Chips
Pigs in a Blanket with Mustard Dipping Sauce
Football Whoopie Pies
Pumpkin Beers

 I'm planning to do even more entertaining posts coming up - I'd love to hear about what you are planning!


  1. Love that girl's patio night. Great menu!

  2. These are great ideas/menus. Thanks.

  3. Hi, Jenny! I've been reading your blog for almost a year and I truly enjoy your posts! Love the ladies night, too. That may be a get together I host very soon! Thanks for the idea :)


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