Food & Cooking

A Simpleguide to Party Food & Party Planning

Planning ahead makes for a successful party. The small details are what add up to a festive whole, and advance preparations will make the event more enjoyable for both you and the guests. Here are some tips on how to best organize a fantastic gathering.

What sort of event are you hosting? Will it be casual, formal, simple, or extravagant? Will finger foods and drinks be the main event, or will there be seating for dinner afterward?
There are many enticing ways to invite people to a party—from fancy cards on elegant paper to whimsical emails. Be clear about the nature of the event, so guests know what to expect. It can also be fun if the gathering has an overarching theme, which can be introduced in the invitation.

Regardless of where the party will be located, it's important to know the conditions of the premises. They should be neither too compact nor so roomy that the space feels empty. Is there a good kitchen with heating and cooling appliances? If the location is difficult to find, provide clear directions in the invitation.
If the party is outdoors, make contingencies for bad weather. Large tents can protect against sun, wind, and rain. For chilly evenings, consider renting propane heaters or buying inexpensive blankets to keep guests warm. Also, keep in mind that there may be uninvited intruders, such as mosquitoes, flies, and wasps
Many people appreciate knowing whether a garden party will be held on the lawn or on a wooden deck, so they can choose suitable shoes and won't risk destroying their delicate high heels.
If the party will inconvenience neighbors, consider notifying them in advance and letting them know how long it will last.

An essential feature of a successful party is a well-considered and composed menu, including a range of flavors, aromas, consistencies, and colors.
Mix things up and avoid repeating the same seasonings and ingredients in different dishes. Strive for a balance between sweet and savory, mild and spicy. 
Offer a variety of dishes that will appeal to all guests: meat, fish, and vegetarian. Some people are adventurous eaters, whereas others are more conservative. Also bear in mind common food allergies.
For large gatherings, try to avoid preparing completely untested recipes. With that said, don't be afraid to try new dishes combined with classic favorites.
Let the season inspire the menu. Fresh, local ingredients usually taste best, and are often the cheapest and easiest to obtain.
Serve hot and cold dishes. In winter, steaming food warms the belly, and in summer, cool dishes are refreshing.
What kind of cooling and warming appliances are available? How long will the food be left out? Consider serving a few dishes that do not need to be refilled and can stay out for a couple hours.
Serve something sweet for dessert. Even if handheld snacks are the primary food (rather than a seated dinner) desserts are always appreciated

As long as there is plenty to eat and drink, the party will be a hit. It's always better to have too much than too little, and it all too often happens that hosts or hostesses underestimate guests' appetites
But determining how much food is needed can be difficult. There are several things to consider.

Generally, we eat more in winter than in summer.

When did guests last eat? Are they coming straight from work, or have they traveled from far away? Is the party being held during a traditional mealtime?

If the space is crowded, it can be difficult for serving staff to move and for guests to access food tables, resulting in people eating less.

Close friends and family will often have no difficulty indulging in the food you serve, whereas acquaintances and professional colleagues may be more reserved. At a formal event, people tend to be more restrained and eat less. Men consume more than women, and the elderly tend to eat less than the young.
Calculate at least one serving per guest for each dish—but preferably more, because guests are sure to want to taste each dish and will happily take second and third helpings.
Keep finger food, such as roasted nuts and dried fruit, available as a backup; they're easy to serve and are quite filling.
Don't try to impress your guests by offering as many kinds of foods as possible—there's always the risk that You'll take on more than you can handle.
Rather, select a few dishes, do them well, and prepare more than enough.

Consider how colors, shapes, and choices of food and drink can be combined, and how to arrange the dishes and the table settings. Everything looks more appetizing on attractive plates, serving trays, and in beautiful bowls. If possible, match glassware, china, cutlery, and napkins, and make sure you have enough—if not, you may need to rent or borrow from friends.
Arrange the food neatly, and garnish with fresh herbs and spices. A well-designed table setting creates a festive atmosphere. Decorate according to season, and ensure that the lighting suits the room.
It is preferable to place a label listing the ingredients beside each dish. If you are hiring waiters, it is important that they know what is in each dish, so they can inform any guests who may have allergies.
Catering companies often rent heating and cooling plates, which are perfect to use when food is to be left out for a long period.
Remember to choose recipes that are appropriate for the physical constraints of the locale. How will the food and drinks be consumed? Is it possible to sit, or will everybody stand? Will guests eat with their hands or with cutlery, and is there a place to put down a glass or plate? Glass holders affixed to the plate are essential for when there are no tables at which to stand. Also consider providing small tables where guests can put down their plates.
If there are numerous guests, be sure to have staff that can help serve, refill dishes, and clean up. The party will be best for everyone involved if the host and hostess have time to socialize instead of running in and out of the kitchen.

Here is an estimate of how much food is required for different types of events.

3—5 hors d'oeuvres/guest, 3 different varieties

3—5 hors d'oeuvres/guest/hour, 5—8 different varieties

10—15 hors d'oeuvres/guest, about 8 different varieties


Choosing beverages can be difficult. Are your guests real wine connoisseurs? Do they enjoy a simple beer, or do they appreciate a well-mixed drink? The beverages you choose should also combine well with the food you are serving. If the event has a particular theme, such as tapas, choose Spanish wine or sangria. If it is a brunch, consider bloody marys or mimosas.
If guests may be pregnant, driving, or do not drink alcohol, well-conceived non-alcoholic refreshments other than soda and water are always appreciated. There are several refreshing non-alcoholic options. Stores may also carry various kinds of non-alcoholic beer and wine from which to choose.
The number of drinks required depends on several factors. How long is the party? What time of day is it being held? Is it on a weekday or a weekend? Are the majority of guests older or younger? How much food will be served? The season also affects consumption.
In summer, beer, white wine, and rosé are often preferred; red wine is more popular in winter. If guests are to be served, they will likely drink less than if they serve themselves.
Serve champagne, sparkling wine, white wine, and beer well chilled. Be sure to have plenty of ice for storing bottles and cooling drinks.
In the box below, we have estimated the number of drinks needed to guide beverage planning. As usual, it is better to buy too much than too little.

How Many Glasses Does One Bottle Contain?
Beverage: Number Of Glasses

Champagne/Sparkling White Wine: 7–8
Red Wine: 5–6
White Wine/Rosé: 6–7
Box Wine (4 Bottles): Approx. 24
Dessert Wine: Approx. 12
Beer (11 Oz): 1–2
Beer (17 Oz): Approx. 2
Liqueurs (L Oz): 17–18

How Many Drinks Per Guest?
Here is an estimate of how many drinks may be consumed at events of various lengths.
1 Pastry Cutters
2 Mini Pie Forms
3 Zester
4 Pastry Bag
5 Pastry Tips
6 Mini Muffin Pan
7 Digital Thermometer
8 Digital Scale


Advice & Tools

Helpful Tools
PASTRY CUTTERS: Are used to cut out different shapes—bread, for example—and are available in different sizes and forms.
MINI PIE FORMS: Can be used for both savory and sweet dishes, and to make small bowls or baskets of biscuit dough. Stainless steel or silicone baking trays are also available in various shapes.
ZESTER: Used to grate fruit peels, such as lemon and lime.
PASTRY BAGS AND TIPS: Piping can be both simple and decorative. Single-use bags are available, as well as those that can be cleaned and reused. Tips come in different sizes and materials and with different nozzles. You can also use bags without the tip if the hole is the right size and if you do not want a particular pattern.
MINI MUFFIN PAN: Used not only for mini muffins, but also for mini cupcakes, mini pies, for shaping breadbaskets, and more. Available in both steel and silicone.
DIGITAL THERMOMETER: Simplifies deep-frying by displaying the oil temperature.
DIGITAL SCALE: A good investment because we often specify quantities by weight. Remember to get a scale that has the tare function, which means that it can deduct the weight of the vessel that holds the raw material.

Utensils Online
If you can't find a certain tool in your local kitchenware store, you can always look online. There are many websites that sell well-crafted and useful utensils.

The Cooking
IN ADVANCE: Although most dishes taste best when freshly made, there are several that can be prepared in advance, as you would rather not be stuck in the kitchen when guests arrive. 
STORING: Food that needs to be stored in the refrigerator or in the freezer should be put away as soon as possible. However, it is important to let heated foods cool first. Remember to always keep food covered in the refrigerator; otherwise it may dry out or take on the flavor of other dishes. Food that is to be frozen should also be wrapped in plastic or aluminum foil.
DEFROSTING: Everything that is frozen should be removed from the freezer approximately one day before serving. Defrost slowly in the refrigerator.
Bread and pastry should defrost in their bag or container at room temperature.
BAKING TIMES: These times may vary for different ovens, so read the instructions carefully and keep an eye on the dish while it is baking. Make sure the oven is the right temperature before inserting anything. Unless we note otherwise, bake in the middle of the oven.
FRYING: Remember that frying can create an unpleasant odor. Serving fried food is only appropriate if you have good ventilation, and if the event is not held near the kitchen.

Sample Party Menus
Here is a proposed selection of hors d'ouevres for various occasions.

Carrot Omelet Roll with Feta 
Caviar Cheesecake with Shrimp 
Vol-Au-Vents with Mushroom & Cognac Filling 
Crème Ninon with Shrimp 
Quiche Lorraine 
Orange, Fennel & Olive Salad 
Salmon Mousse With Cucumber & Celery Salad 
Watermelon with Balsamic Syrup 
Key Lime Pie 

Baked New Potatoes with Sour Cream & Prosciutto Chips 
Chicken Terrine With Apricot & Pistachio 
Carrot Rösti with Feta 
Corn Soup with Chili & Crab 
Beet, Chèvre & Pine Nut Salad 
Chicken, Sage & Lemon Skewers 
Cheese Wheel 
Puff Pastry Baked Olives 
Flatbread Strips with Cheddar & Caraway
Omelet Roll with Salmon & Chives 
Canapé with Crab & Apple 
Chilled Avocado & Grapefruit Soup 
Asian Potato Salad with Beef & Sweet Chili 
Fish Tacos with Fried Cod & Coleslaw 
Tuna Sliders with Mango Salsa & Wasabi 
Green Pea & Cashew Spread 
Garlic Bread with Parsley 
Summer Berries with Lime Sugar 

Flavored Popcorn 
Grilled Potato Skins 
Prosciutto Chips 
Classic Hamburger Sliders 
Buffalo Chicken Wings 
Pizza with Salami, Olives & Arugula 
Sesame-Crusted Salmon Skewers 
Grilled Mushrooms with Mozzarella 
Roasted Pita with Cumin & Sesame 
Potato & Almond Dip 

Blinies with Caviar 
Crème Ninon with Shrimp 
Potato Purèe with Lobster & Herb Butter 
Scallops in Champagne Sauce 
Cauliflower Mousse with Prosciutto Chips 
Shrimp with Dipping Sauces 
Canapé with Salmon Tartar 
Canapé with Caviar, Sour Cream & Red Onion 
Oysters or Oyster Rockefeller 
Croutons with Foie Gras & Raspberry Onion Chutney 
Salmon Rillette 
Mini-skewers with Blue Cheese & Fig 

Puff Pastry Sticks, Wheels & Palmiers 
Carrot Omelet Roll with Feta 
Flatbread Roll with Ham & Spinach 
Carrot Soup with 
Curry, Ginger & Cumin 
Patatas Bravas 
Quesadillas with Tuna Filling 
Pizza with Zucchini, Mushrooms & Tomato 
Potato & Almond Dip 
Mini-skewers with Cheese & Olive 
Roast Beef & Pearl Onion Toothpicks 

Vol-Au-Vents with Brie & Crab Filling 
Carpaccio Roll with Parmesan & Arugula 
Chanterelle Soup with Truffle Oil 
Oysters with Sauces 
Canapé with Caviar, Sour Cream & Red Onion, 
Oysters Rockefeller 
Croutons with Foie Gras & Raspberry Onion Chutney 
Snails with Garlic & Parsley 
Steak Tartare 


Crêpe with Mushroom & Blue Cheese Spread 
Baked Potatoes with Sour Cream & Deep-Fried Capers 
Ricotta & Spinach Pie with Sun-dried Tomatoes 
Beetroot Soup with Apple & Blackcurrants 
Asparagus Mousse with Parmesan Crisps 
Tortilla de Patata con Zucchini 
Stuffed Mushrooms 
Artichokes with Dipping Sauce 
Grilled Mushrooms with Mozzarella 
Grilled Marinated Vegetables 

Ajo Blanco—Chilled Garlic & Almond Soup 
Asian Potato Salad with Beef & Sweet Chili 
Chicken, Sage & Lemon Skewers 
Sesame-Crusted Salmon Skewers 
Tortilla de Patata 
Buffalo Chicken Wings 
BBQ Baby Back Ribs 
Corn on the Cob 

Quiche Lorraine 
Chicken & Prosciutto Skewers 
Classic Hamburger Sliders 
Pizza with Potatoes, Bacon, Rosemary & Parmesan 
Muffins with Feta & Spinach 
Croque Monsieur 
Mini-skewers with Watermelon, Feta & Mint 
Flavored Popcorn 
Potato & Root Vegetable Chips 

Fruit Skewers with Lime Sugar