Hosting a holiday party? Then you know it’s impossible to please everyone on your list. There are so many different expectations, likes and dislikes, allergies and food sensitivities, that it can almost seem impossible to plan for all your guests’ preferences. Seeing as I have severe food issues, I understand this better than most. But it can be done and your budget doesn’t have to suffer. Let’s take a look at a few ideas for providing your guests with the foods they love while staying within your budget.
Plenty of Special Little Choices
If you have a lot of people coming over for your holiday meal or party, appetizers are the easiest way to ensure that you please them all. Providing a wide variety of food in small portions is the perfect way to please them all. Finger foods, hors d’oeuvres, cheese trays, fruit plates, vegetables with dip, and the like are perfect for a party that is all about nibbling and mingling. You can really fill people up on a budget by frugally shopping for ingredients.
However, a holiday party requires a special touch. If you are familiar with tapas (appetizers), this might be a good time to search for recipes specifically served for these ‘small bites’ parties. You’ll get a lot of ideas for delicious dishes to serve, both hot and cold. I don’t touch a lot on appetizers on the site but I will in January. I know that’s not helpful now but I’ll be ramping up for another holiday, to me that is the Super Bowl lol
Now is the time to rethink some of your classics. You can dress up your pinwheel recipes with over-the-top ingredients for your holiday party. Rather than using ham and Swiss cheese, choose smoked salmon, arugula, and Gruyere cheese, for instance. Wrap diced honeydew melon in pancetta and broil for a surprising bite. Make tiny meat and vegetable bundles inside thin layers of phyllo dough. Spoon spiced shrimp into Romaine lettuce leaves. Those are just a few ways to turn familiar appetizer foods into something special and enticing for your guests.
Be sure to have more than enough little serving plates set all over the room so your guests can sample a few bites, walk away, sample another couple dishes, and keep moving. Guests are bound to set their plates down often, so just be ready with more. Keep the food interesting with a lot of variety and no one will feel they didn’t get what they wanted to eat. This is also great for conversation because everyone is anxious to talk about the tasty item they discovered over on the other side of the room.
The Potluck Makes a Comeback
We are big on the potlucks. While I love to host and cook everything, other people always want to bring dishes. It’s also a good way to ensure the food is what your guests will want to eat. Because, after all, your guests are bringing their favorite dishes! Here you are, providing your guests with bragging rights to their great-grandmother’s stuffing recipe while, at the same time, pleasing your guests tastes and keeping your budget under control. If that sounds sneaky, it’s not. Everybody knows the score! Your guests will love providing their favorite dish just as long as you provide the place and the basics for the meal.
When you issue the invitation, keep it casual. Say something on the order of; “You’re Invited to a Holiday Potluck,” then explain that you want them to bring a favorite dish of theirs. Also, let them know to keep their dish small since everyone will be bringing something so you’ll have more than enough food to go around. This keeps them from going overboard making more food than is needed. Be sure to ask what dish they are bringing so you can orchestrate the meal at least a little. You don’t want an endless supply of jello salads or pinwheels and no sweet potato casserole or veggie tray, for instance.
This is also a great way to start conversations between people as they find their favorite dishes and talk about the recipe. You can also ask your guests to bring recipe cards if they would like to share. Perhaps you could gather the cards and put them together in a book for your guests as a little thank you gift for coming and sharing in your potluck party.
Capture Their Attention With Comfort Foods
When planning a party, you naturally want to please everyone’s taste buds. What’s more pleasing than comfort foods? Building comfort foods into your menu helps you make sure there is something that everyone likes. Comfort foods are generally inexpensive, can be prepared with ease, and are recognized and loved by most everyone.
Think of your classic comfort foods and you’ll usually think of cheesy macaroni, green bean casserole, wild rice mushroom bake, and maybe some creamy mashed potatoes. A fragrant sage stuffing is another food that just makes you go ‘ahhhhhh.’
Whatever your comfort food, if you decide to include one or more with your meal, just have it match the style of the dinner. For instance, if you are serving a variety of ‘small bites’ for your meal, go ahead and make the comfort food, but instead of making it in a big casserole, create tiny bites in mini-muffin tin cups. Tiny bites of sage stuffing will match the finger food style of the party but still offer the comfort you and your guests are craving.
As suggested with dressing up the appetizers, you can do this with the comfort foods as well. Think of great little add on’s to sprinkle on top of the dish. Bacon crumbles would go great on top of both mashed potatoes and mac-n-cheese. Saute some mushrooms and onions to top the quite a few different dishes. Decorating the dish a little makes it look even more festive.
When trying to please a lot of people on a limited budget, there are three main options you have for making sure everyone is satisfied. Offer a lot of choices in the ‘tiny bites’ style, host a potluck, and finally include comfort foods that satisfy the majority. Your job as host is to make sure your guests are well fed and happy. With these options, you can tweak your menu and style in ways that will have your guests very pleased indeed.
Here’s the link to some recipes that will help your entertaining.
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