How to pick a party menu that doesn’t keep you in the kitchen
If you’ve ever hosted a party before, then you probably know that nothing creates stress quite like a high-maintenance menu. If you’re constantly running back and forth from the kitchen, you never really get to enjoy the bash that you worked so hard to plan. So what’s the solution? Plan a lower-maintenance party menu that requires minimal attention during your soiree. Here’s how to do it, step by step.
- Choose a few staples. If you’re not much of a chef, party night might not be the right time to experiment with new recipes. Instead, choose one or two signature dishes that you’ve made many times. Break out your classic Buffalo chicken dip or whip up a batch of Swedish meatballs. The friends who know you well will probably be expecting your go-to dish, anyway!
- Stick with simple finger foods. Planning an entire meal, from soup and salad to the main course, is a labor-intensive process that practically ensures you’ll be stuck in the kitchen cooking throughout your party. Instead, create a smorgasbord of finger foods. Even if each snack is somewhat light, if you offer a large enough variety, your party guests will easily be able to make a meal out of the spread. And you won’t have to slave away in the kitchen until everyone is full!
- Opt for no-cook apps…If you do choose to try something new in the kitchen in preparation for your party, one easy option is an appetizer that requires no cooking. The Food Network has a few no-cook recipes that you can try, like prosciutto-and-cheddar apple slices skewered through with toothpicks and mini beet salad bites. These unique snacks will impress your friends, but since they don’t require you to fire up the oven, won’t take you away from the party.
- Or cook the day before. Hot food isn’t entirely out of the question for your party, but make sure the dishes you choose can be prepped ahead of time. Taste of Home offers a long list of make-ahead apps, many of which will challenge your inner chef. But it doesn’t really matter if you botch the first batch because you can craft all of these at least a day before your party, so there’s time to figure out plan B. Try the broccoli-cheddar tassies, the chicken crescent wreath, or the freezable mini grilled cheese bites.
- Let guests chip in. When you announce a party, most invitees will instinctively ask, “What can I bring?” They’re not just being polite. Most folks are more than happy to add a dish to the array. After all, it’s easy for someone to make one app — as opposed to you crafting an entire feast single handedly. So when someone volunteers to bring some food or come and help out before the other guests arrive, graciously accept their offer. The more help you get, the less time you’ll have to spend in the kitchen once your party gets underway.
20 Tips to Throw the Best Stress-Free Dinner Party Ever [Greatist]
25 Make-Ahead Appetizer Recipes to Always Have on Hand [Taste of Home]
7 Easy No-Cook Toothpick Appetizers [Food Network]