In a few weeks, I will be hosting a party. The party will be to honor one of my favorite authors, Joanne Fluke, and to launch her new book, Blackberry Pie Murder.
I will talk more about my planning of that individual party in tomorrow’s We Plan Wednesday post.
In general, I’ve found it best for my food at parties to have a few things in common: food bars/stations and participatory dining. I rarely do sit down plated dinner parties. I just don’t “do” that. First of all, I know people like different things. Take my two besties, my two peeps from my university days. One eschews chicken (seriously won’t touch it) and one usually orders chicken at a restaurant. So, I try to offer a variety of options.
I have found food stations and food bars to be very helpful to the party atmosphere. I usually have a drinks station with cups, straws, sweet tea, unsweet tea, lemons for the tea, sodas/pops, etc. That way people get their own choice. (I also have water from the fridge filtered tap and what I call drink “straws” the flavored packets to flavor your water) Sometimes I have a specialty non-alky drink like my non-alky sangria (which I will post below).
I usually try to have a dessert station of some sort. Sometimes it’s just a selection of desserts like we had at the New Year’s Eve party.
Sometimes it’s the toppings for the ice cream sundae bar like at the Super Bowl Party.
We have also had hot dog topping bars (for Canada Day) and hamburger topping bars (for the Fourth of July) before. On New Year’s Eve we always have chicken and steak fajitas (using a recipe adapted from Food.com that I will post sometime) with rice and the fixins set up fajita bar style. There are many others I want to try that I’ve pinned on the Pinteresting Blogosphere. Hot cocoa bars. Popcorn bars. Taco bars (oddly enough, not one we’ve done). Soup bar (which my sister did an awesome job on when we arrived at her house the day before Thanksgiving this past year): she recommends making a double batch of soup and freezing the rest over a few weeks or months. Then, you pull each one out, thaw them, and serve with accompaniments (and salad!). And I love to make salad bars (we did this when my sister’s family came to my house to open Christmas right after Christmas this past Christmas) with tons of toppings so that people can pick and choose.
(And, on a purely selfish note: lotsa leftovers!)
The purpose of this: participatory dining. People eat with their eyes first. I’m sure you’ve said before, “My eyes were bigger than my stomach.” People like to build their own creations (unless they are above all that) and arrange them to their liking. (Thus, the purpose of so many items on a buffet) People like to compare their creations to everyone else’s–you know who you are! (Yes. My name is Muffin’s Mama and I’m a competitive food bar creation creator. I need my own support group) I read once in one of Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Schulz books something about giving people something to do with their hands (with their food). If you haven’t ever read her work, it’s great. Her main character Goldy is a caterer. In this case, I would say the caterer knows best.
Non-Alky Sangria: It’s very important to have red (as opposed to purple) grape juice
- 2 liters ginger ale, chilled
- 96 ounces red grape juice, chilled
- 8 key limes, divided
- 3 lemons, sliced into rounds, divided
- 2 oranges, sliced into half moon rounds, divided
- 1 apple, cored and sliced into thin wedges
- 1 pear, cored and sliced into thin wedges
- 2 teaspoons lemon extract ( pure)
- Place pear, apple, the wedges of one orange, and the wedges of one lemon in a large glass pitcher.
- Cut four of the limes in half. Place the lime halves in the bottom of the pitcher, squeezing slightly to release some of the juice.
- Slice the remaining limes into very thin slice wheels. Place them and the remaining oranges and lemons in a quart size bag. Place the bag in the refrigerator to chill.
- Pour the lemon extract over the fruit in the pitcher. Pour one of the bottles of the red grape juice over the fruit. Chill the pitcher several hours.
- To serve, place a few slices key lime, one slice of orange, and one slice of lemon (from the refrigerator bag) into a decorative sangria glass. Pour 2 tablespoons-1/4 cup of ginger ale over the fruit in the glass. Pour the sangria base from the pitcher to the top of each glass. Float a soaked apple wedge and pear wedge in each glass.
- The remaining bottle of red grape juice can be poured over the remaining fruit in the pitcher. Pour any juice that has squeezed out of the bagged fruit into the sangria mixture to replenish the base.
For a printable copy of the recipe, check out my recipe page.