How to have a party that doesn’t require you to cook
Food is often a major player at any get-together. It brings people together, gets them talking, and makes them happy (if it’s good, that is!) But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen preparing a bunch of dishes. You can get away with little or no cooking pretty easily and your guests won’t bat an eye. Here are a few ideas that will impress your guests as well as make things much easier for you.
Hold a potluck. Don’t be afraid to ask your guests to bring some food to share with everyone. In fact, most people routinely ask what they can bring when they receive a party invite anyway. You can have people sign up to bring appetizers, entrees, or desserts, or you can come up with a theme. This would be a particularly good idea if you have friends who are foodies. How about food inspired by the city where you live, or dishes centered around in-season produce? (Make sure to let everyone know if any guests have dietary restrictions.)
Serve tapas-style no-cook appetizers. If your get-together is less of a dinner party and more of a casual mix-and-mingle event, store-bought appetizers are perfect. Rather than setting out things like hummus and dips in the plastic containers, scoop them out and put them in nice bowls, and arrange chips and veggies on a plate.
Make heavy use of charcuterie and cheese boards. Many people love to graze, especially at a party, which is why charcuterie and cheese boards are having something of a renaissance right now. Bring this trend to your party by assembling a collection of cured meats, pickled vegetables, crackers, olives, jams, and dried fruits for folks to pick on as they please. Keeping non meat-eaters in mind, arrange the cheese on a separate plate, board or tray. Try to offer at least three types of cheese as well as a variety of crackers. If you have little chalkboard cheese markers, use them to identify each cheese. If not, no worries — your guests will eat it all up anyway!
Use freezer foods. Does it really count as cooking if you’re just warming something up? The freezer aisle of your local grocery offers plenty of different snacks and appetizers that only require heating in the oven, or in a pinch, the microwave. You can serve an entire spread of bites that will satisfy without ever actually “cooking” anything.
When in doubt, order out. You can get takeout to supplement the rest of the food you’re not cooking, or have it be the entire shebang. Pizza is always a crowd-pleaser, or you could spring for sushi or anything else that you know your guests would like. This isn’t the time to introduce your friends to cuisine from an adventurous restaurant! Some restaurants have party platters that you can customize according to food preferences and the size of your group, which could be a great option.