The Ultimate Party: GUIDE FOR THE PERFECT MENU

Once you have made your guest list and received confirmation as to who will be attending, start asking your guests about preferences, likes and dislikes. It’s just as important to know what NOT to make as what TO make.

Now, take all this information and sit down with a piece paper and a pen. Time to plan your menu!

First, you must determine what main course you will serve. This is important because it will help you choose an appetizer, soup and/or salad, side dishes, desserts, drinks etc.

I recommend you decide the type of meal to prepare. it could be an ethnic meal such as Italian, or it could be a Themed meal such as revolving around a holiday, celebration or event. I tend to choose Greek or Italian menus for the most part.
WHY? 

#1 Because there are dishes you can prepare that are simple to do and leave  plenty of time to enjoy your guests.

#2 Most of my friends enjoy either.

#3 My husband is Greek and has had several restaurants – many of his specialties revolve around Mediterranean cuisine.

 TIPS TO MENU PLANNING

Choose dishes that are simple to prepare and require minimal attention once your guests arrive. You want to spend time with your guests, not all your time in the kitchen.

Choose a main dish that sounds elegant, looks delicious and is pleasing to the palate. And one that is also flexible in that you can choose a variety of dishes to accompany the main course.

One of my favorites is Pizziaola – Pizziaola can be made with steak, pork or chicken or a combination of all   three (my favorite).

It’s all about the  FOOD!

While the menu is certainly not an afterthought when it comes to most parties, it is not always on the top of the list. I’d like to think it should be. Yes, the right theme, the right location and the right guests are equally important. When done right, the food is one of the things that people will talk about long after the event is over.

Here are 6 tips to make sure the food from your event is the talk of the town:

#1 GUEST PROFILES & PREFERENCES

If your event is a business event, it is likely the guests are business people, professionals in various (or similar) careers. Its typical for most business professionals to attend several events throughout the year, often remembering the food for lack of creativity or interest (one example: rubber chicken). When planning your menu consider the professional level of your guests, how often they attend similar events, where they live and their ethnic background. The average age, health issues and food preferences (likes and dislikes) also help.

Knowing these details will help you determine what to serve and what your guests will enjoy most.

#2  CONSIDER OFFERING MENU CHOICES

This is easy when you are serving food buffet style. However if its a sit down meal, offering more than two choices can be tricky (and pricy if the event is hosted outside a home). If you serve salad, make sure you have at least 3 choices for salad dressings. Serve all condiments (including the gravy) on the side. Provide more than one dessert. Having a healthy option to a more extravagant dessert makes your guests feel special and taking into consideration with the planning.

#3  USE SEASONAL & LOCALLY-GROWN FOODS

When you use foods that are in season you save money and help the local economy. Incorporate popular dishes from the local area that your guests will enjoy and appreciate.

#4  CONSIDER THE TIME OF DAY WHEN PLANNING YOUR MENU

Timing is everything and so is time of day. If you only have a short time for the meal portion of your event, profide prepackaged box lunches (with meat and vegetable alternatives). Buffets are generally finished in one hour (calculate the number of people in attendance, the number of buffet lines to estimate the time the buffet would take to complete). If you are having a cocktail hour, add that to the overal time for the food portion of the event.

 #5  DO YOUR GUESTS HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS OR REQUIREMENTS?

If so, you will need to take those needs into account when planning the menu. These can include allergies, religious traditions and rituals, as well as dietary restrictions (vegans eat different food than vegetarians).

#6  INCORPORATE AN ETHNIC OR REGIONAL THEME IN YOUR MENU

Most people love ethnic themes and will look forward to an event that incorporates this type of fare. If you are hiring a caterer, it also makes it easier to work with the chef to plan the food. You can even invite your guests to participate by inviting them to “dress the part”or bring something to the event that supports the theme (such as a mask, a flower, a specific color).

COMMON ETHNIC CATERING THEMES INCLUDE:

  • Asian
  • French
  • Greek
  • German
  • Italian
  • Middle Eastern
  • Mexican
  • Latin

REGIONAL THEMES INCLUDE:

  • Southern
  • Midwest
  • Eastern
  • Tex-Mex to

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