Home parties are generally more personal and relaxed—and more cost-effective—than celebrations held in a restaurant or rented event space. But they can also be chaotic, with family, friends, and food coming and going, often at the same time. If you’re planning to feed a festive group at home, follow the strategies here to serve up a well-organised, stress-free event.
When planning what food to serve, think carefully about your menus, and:
- • Limit the menu to a few crowd-pleasing dishes. Whether you’re doing the cooking yourself or having food catered in, don’t drive yourself crazy with too many options. Stick to a few popular favourites and double up if necessary. For main courses, dishes that can be made ahead and reheated or served at room temperature are best.
• Serve a double-duty vegan main dish. Extended family, friends of friends—if you don’t know all your guests well, chances are someone will appreciate a vegan main dish. By definition, it’s vegetarian-friendly as well—and a vegan entrée can even serve as a side dish for the committed carnivores in the crowd.
Speed Up Your Serving
When guests are hungry, it will be easier to get the food out if you:
- • Plate food in advance. Fill serving bowls and arrange platters in advance so you’re not fussing in the kitchen while guests are all having a good time. Of course, it helps if you have a space-efficient refrigerator like the Samsung RB-31. Features like Easy Slide shelves and Full Open Box drawers make serving easier and less accident-prone—no need to tilt plates or struggle to maneuver bowls out of the fridge.
• Organise condiments ahead of time. Don’t spend precious party time hunting for the mustard in the back of the fridge. Organise all the “go-withs” beforehand. If your refrigerator has a Grab ’n Go Basket in the door, you can fill it ahead of time and just … grab and go!
As much as possible, make it easy for guests to serve themselves by:
- • Having enough serving utensils. Before the day of the party, make sure you have serving pieces for every dish, so guests don’t have to forage or borrow utensils from other platters (thus slowing down food service).
• Creating a beverage centre. Keep beverages organised in an area with plenty of glassware or cups nearby. If possible, minimise ice consumption (and cleanup) by pre-chilling soft drinks, and keep them in the door of the fridge, where guests have easy access to the replenishments.
Incorporate Sign Language
You can’t be everywhere at once, so inform and direct your guests by:
- • Making ingredient tags for everything you serve. Nut allergy, gluten intolerance, onion aversion—while it would likely be impossible for you to cater to every guest’s health needs and dietary restrictions, be sure to write up the list of ingredients in your recipes and tape it near the appropriate dishes. It will save you time answering the question “What’s in this?”
• Pointing people to the most popular locations. Print arrows on your computer and label them to direct people to the water dispenser on your fridge, the extra ice supply, and the bathrooms. Prominent signs for the trash and recycling bins will encourage guests to use them—and speed your cleanup efforts later.
Have a Plan for the Leftovers
Quickly assess what foods can be salvaged, and:
- • Wrap and keep what you’ll use. Tightly wrap, label, and stash freezer-friendly foods, like leftover lasagna or whatever might save you cooking a meal or buying a lunch. (It helps to have a freezer that keeps foods at the optimum temperature, like the one in the Samsung RB-31. Its No Frost feature circulates air evenly around each compartment, maintaining a constant temperature in every corner.)
• Have disposable containers on hand. Be realistic about what leftovers your family will eat, and send the rest home with your guests. Your company will appreciate tasty take-home slices of birthday cake—or whatever else you know you can’t keep or won’t use.
Whether or not they get leftovers, your guests are sure to appreciate the time and effort you took to host a party. And if you followed these strategies, chances are you’ll want to throw your next event at home, too.