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September 09, 2015

Cocktail Party Menu | Beef Tenderloin, Lobster Rolls, Tomatoes, Blue Cheese Potatoes & Mini Milkshakes

As promised, today I'm sharing the behind the scenes set-up, shopping and cooking schedule for the engagement party we hosted last week for my Brother and Claire.  I love hosting parties, but it does take a lot of organization and planning.  I'll walk you through the menu, setup process and give you my checklists and shopping lists in case get inspired to host a similar party.  

You can download all of the checklists, shopping list and worksheets, here : Party Planning Worksheets

Our party was for 50 people 7-10pm.  We wanted heavy hors d'oeuvres that still felt fresh and summery on a hot, hot day, but also special.  We have a family joke that my brother always has had a knack for ordering the most expensive thing on any menu (and has since he was 5!), so this Steak and Lobster was our nod to his favorites!   And his Bride, Claire, is definitely as champagne girl, so we made sure we had plenty of that, too.   Even with our special (and a bit luxurious) menu, we tried to keep it casual and fun for our young crowd... including the late-night "Boozy Milkshakes" (Tumbleweeds) we served at the end of the night. 

 Here was our menu : 

Beef Tenderloin with Soft Rolls & Horseradish (instructions coming soon)
Creamy Shrimp Dip with Crackers and Asparagus  (my Granny's - will share soon)
Cheese Board with Berries
Spiced Cashews  (Barefoot Contessa)
Mini Tumbleweed Milkshakes (so good, coming soon!)
White Wine

 Here is our shopping list - you can download, here.

I will post my step-by-steps of the Beef Tenderloin later this week.  It was yummy - and the first to go.  I cooked it the day before and refrigerated it overnight, making it very easy to slice thinly.

Mini Lobster Rolls on butter toasted buns.

Tomato Mozzarella Platter served with Garlic Toasts.  Easy and Summery.  My Mom brought all of the tomatoes from her garden, which also made it budget friendly.

I always feel like you need a little green on the table.  This crunchy asparagus was great for dipping in the creamy shrimp dip.

We ran out of room on the food table, so I put the cheese board on the island, which worked great for everyone to munch on.  I also had bowls of the spiced cashews around, but forgot to take a picture.

And Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Celebration Candles... not just for birthdays!

Here is the Set-up Checklist.  I find it helpful to sit down and think of everything we'll need at once, when I can concentrate... instead of last minute when I'm running around.

Here is the table laid out with platters a couple of days before.  This really helps make final decisions on what food and how much.

I always like to add some height, like with the Marble Cake Stands.

We had a rental company bring tables and chairs for the patio.

We moved our picnic table into the grass and put candles down the center - was a great gathering spot later in the night by the firepit.  Not surprisingly this is where most of Josh's college friends ended up - casual and fun.

We did three 48" rounds with 6 chairs each.

Love these new giant cedar planters with mums.  Email me if you are interested - thinking of adding them to the shop!

A few weeks ago my lavender died out, so I replaced it with some boxwoods that I can replant later.  I actually love the structure of a shrub in a pot - I may keep it.  Mike in the background prepping the firepit.

My biggest helper wondering where all of his balls and yard toys have gone.

The kitchen running at full steam.  And yes, that is my favorite indulgence - a mini coke in a glass bottle.

Tying up the beef to help it cook evenly.

Steaming potatoes for the canapes.

Chopping up lobster for rolls.

Beef is cooked, now will rest, then be wrapped and put in the refrigerator overnight.

Potatoes are steamed, sliced and topped with blue cheese and bacon.  Yum!

Here is a blank template for you to customize for your own parties, download, here.


  1. Love, love, love your templates! I have used your Thankgiving templates and I will definitely use these next party.

  2. I LOVE seeing how you organize and plan for a party! Will definitely download your planning sheets - such a great idea and will help make an organized to-do and check-off list, which is always my favorite part! I also lay out my table with platters and display items a day or two before to visualize where things will go, it is such a huge help and makes it easier the day of to get food setup and ready. :)

  3. This is the most helpful party plan I have come across. So often I see the end results that look spectacular, but the detailed process is not clear. Consequently, I think I must be doing something wrong when I am preparing our own event because I feel overwhelmed with all the specific tasks and trying to get the timing just right. The party is usually a success, but I feel frazzled inside before it even begins. Please share more of these types of posts; this was great!

  4. So pretty! Def add those cedar boxes to your shop!

  5. I love getting this little behind the scenes look at your party setup. I've entertained quite a bit but I've never been nearly this organized! lol

  6. Thank you so much Jenny for all this great information!


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