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Old 05-12-2005, 10:57 PM   #1
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Please help with serving ideas for party

Hi. I haven't been on here for a while due to health and other things going on. Anyway, my son is graduating from high school. I will be having a small casual get together (about 20 people) and making all the food myself. I rarely entertain so I'm trying to find attractive/efficient ideas. Does anyone know any eye catching ways to present the food?

For small foods such as meatballs, cheese chunks, fruit, etc., I'm debating whether to stick fancy toothpicks in all of them. Too time consuming? If I did, how would I keep the meatballs warm? On the plus side, I think that way less is likely to be wasted. Sometimes people's eyes are bigger than their stomachs and they take big spoonfuls of stuff and leave it on their plate. What do you think?

Besides the above foods, I'm probably going to have roll-ups, nachos & dip, vegetables & dip, bakery, and a few other side dishes/salads. Does that sound like enough or do a need a big "main" food like pizza or chicken? I'm trying to keep the cost down, but I don't want to look cheap.

I already bought a case of bottled water. I'm not sure whether to just buy 2-liter bottles of pop or if I should make punch (in addition to having pop). If the punch doesn't get drank, it can't be saved like the pop....but is it expected to have punch at a party?

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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Old 05-13-2005, 09:13 AM   #2
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If it were me I would do the punch. It would be a little more special. My favorite punch is equal parts pineapple juice to white grape juice. Then top it off with sprite before serving. It is a very cost effective punch and taste really good. Not too sweet.

When doing presentation remember to keep color and height in mind. I'm sure it will look great. Maybe to keep people from eating so much at first you could put half of it out while keeping the rest warm on the stove. Then you can refill it if needed. That way you don't have to worry about the toothpicks.
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Old 05-13-2005, 09:30 AM   #3
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Consider making chicken drummies - no toothpick necessary. Regarding the toothpicks, I just strategically place a few small plates with toothpicks on the table and let the people do their own impaling.
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Old 05-13-2005, 09:57 AM   #4
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To keep the warm food warm, consider using warming trays. Lots of people still have one or two lieing around. If the meatballs are in a tomato (or other kind of) sauce, you could keep them in a crock pot. For smaller amounts, you could use a crock pot as a steam table - put hot water in the pot and a dish with the meatballs on top in place of the lid.If you want to slow down the guests with eyes bigger than thier stomachs, don't cut up the cheese. Put out a big piece and a cheese knife.
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Old 05-13-2005, 10:50 AM   #5
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Put your dips in 'veggie' bowls - hollow out a cabbage, or top off a bell pepper (cut a thin slice off the bottom to make it stand up better). Also for the veggie tray, try putting the 'sticks' of things, like carrots, celery, in different size glasses, and arrange them around the platter with the 'flatter' veggies like broccoli, etc. Try some different veggies - lightly steamed green beans or asparagus are great, and look so different!


I'm with Otter on chicken drummies rather than meatballs - not everyone is eating beef these days , so that would keep everyone happy. You could do a couple of different flavors - like teriyaki and BBQ.

Instead of punch, why not some big pitchers of iced tea? Look around for the big party dispensers that seem to be everywhere - they hold 3-5 gallons.

If you're serving everything on a big table, make it interesting by adding some height, so the food isn't all 'flat'. Under the tablecloth, place sturdy boxes or cartons big enough to hold your platters, then drape the tablecloth over the boxes, and arrange your food platters on top.

For garnishes, cheap and easy is kale for lining platters like for the wraps and chicken if you go with that. Sprigs of parsley always look pretty, as do the little grape tomatoes.

For a fruit dish, cut a pineapple in half lengthwise, then cut out the fruit, so you have a boat. You can put some of your other fruit in the boat, like a cornucopia, just spilling out. Or - cut the pineapple like you normally would, save the top and use it as garnish for the plate - trim off any icky looking leaves.

Hope I gave you some ideas! You might want to go to the library and look in the cooking section for catering/garnishing books - there's a lot out there that may give you some ideas.
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Old 05-13-2005, 11:44 AM   #6
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I forgot, on the punch we made a beautiful ice ring out of bright red grapes. Only don't actually use ice. Freeze the punch. That way when it melts down it won't turn wattery.

If you do tea, put it into a clear pitcher and put beautiful mint leaves in it.
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Old 05-13-2005, 01:49 PM   #7
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lol - I'm the opposite - I'd rather do meatballs than drummies - meatballs requires 1 toothpick, drummies require one hand and 4 napkins! lol

I would definately just place the toothpicks beside the meatballs.

Punch would be more special IMHO. Just don't mix it all up - mix in the carbonated beverage right when serving. There is also a recipe for Party Iced Tea in the beverage section - I'm pretty sure anyway - it's good and not too sweet and cheap.
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Old 05-13-2005, 05:19 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the great ideas! You guys were my last resort. I looked all over the library and could only find books about cooking, baking, and games. Nothing about presentation or serving tips.

For items like the dips, salads and fruit, I'm sure it will be warm to hot...in a church hall, no A/C...should I put those items in bowls of ice? Or would that detract from the presentation? Or you think I should just put out small portions at a time and keep the rest in the fridge to put out later? On the other hand, knowing my mom, if I do that she won't want to eat, she'll think I don't have enough food.

Any other tips? Thanks, everyone!
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Old 05-13-2005, 05:58 PM   #9
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If it's warm I would think the ice would melt pretty quickly so I wouldn't do that. I would do what you suggested and pull a little out depending on how long it is going to be sitting in the heat. Just tell your mom the plan so she know's there is more food in the kitchen.
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Old 05-13-2005, 06:35 PM   #10
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For desert you can always serve up a scoop of vanilla cream that you put into a habanero pepper
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