The other weekend was a bit chaotic – we celebrated both Canadian Thanksgiving and our daughter’s second birthday. It takes about two days for me to cook and fully prepare for turkey day and I planned to bake cupcakes from scratch for the birthday party.
My big plan to make everything work was to assemble food that was quick and easy so the party would be a success but I wouldn’t get burned out before the big Thanksgiving prep. This post is dedicated to sharing my easy party planning tips with you.
Timing is Everything
Whether you are planning a cocktail party or a kids birthday party the first thing to consider is the time slot for your party. A great idea is to have the party before or after meal time, this way your guests will expect a few nibbles but won’t expect a full meal.
As a good rule of thumb plan approximately 10 – 15 bites per person over the course of a two hour party.
Cheese & Crackers
Instead of buying a big block of cheese that you will have to slice or cube in advance, consider buying cheese that guests can easily serve themselves. A Brie or Camembert wheel is a great idea. I chose a package of goat cheeses from Costco with three different favors – Bruschetta, Fig and Herb. All I had to do was plate them and add serving utensils.
While a store bought veggie platter may seem like a convenient option, you can easily put one together yourself for a fraction of the cost. But to save time choose only three or four vegetables instead of a whole garden variety. Cherry tomatoes can be quickly washed and added as is, same with baby carrots. Chop up cucumber and bell peppers and you’re done. Serve with Spinach Dip or buy a container of hummus.
Easy Spinach Dip
This one is from my mom’s recipe box. It’s so easy to throw together and you can prepare it the day before.
- Sour cream, 1 pint (500g)
- Knorr onion soup mix, 1 packet
- Frozen spinach, 1 box, thawed
- (Optional) Chopped onion or green onion
Empty the sour cream into a mixing bowl and combine with the onion soup mix.
Take out the spinach and if it isn’t completely thawed you can add it to a bowl of hot water. Squeeze out all excess water and give the spinach a quick chop. Add about 3/4 to the sour cream mixture and stir. If you like your dip extra spinach-y then you can add it all, otherwise you can save the extra spinach and add it to your scrambled eggs at breakfast.
If you like an extra kick then you can chop up some onions and mix them in. If I know kids are coming to the party then I leave the onions out.
If making ahead of time, return the dip to the sour cream container (it’ll be a tight fit but you should be able to get it all back in).
Just before the party starts you can either hollow out a loaf of pumpernickel bread for the dip or you can keep it simple and serve it in a bowl with chopped vegetables.
For a kids party just buy some sliced ham, roll up the slices and arrange on a plate. For an adult party you may want to add some prosciutto and spicy salami.
Bread is definitely a party staple. It can be eaten as is, dunked in dip or topped with cheese and deli meat. Slice up a couple of baguettes or a loaf of artisan bread and place in a basket lined with a napkin.
Super easy and you can make them the day before and store in a single layer in an airtight container in the fridge. Simply hard boil some eggs, peel them and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop the yolks out into a bowl and break them up with a fork. Add enough mayo to make them creamy and curry powder to taste. Spoon the mixture back into the egg halves. Easy. Done.
Instead of spending time cutting up an assortment of fruit, just pick one fruit that is in season. In the summer put out a bowl of freshly washed grapes or slice up a melon. In cooler months buy a box of mandarins and put them in a basket.
A Few More Easy Finger Foods:
- Bowl of chips
- Nuts: tamari almonds, cashews or other nut mixture
- Two bite brownies
For a kids party the simplest option is to offer two choices: water or juice (apple is always popular but the kids all enjoyed mango at our party).
For a cocktail party, unless you want to play bartender all night have a choice of beer, red or white wine. Also have a non-alcoholic option such as juice or pop.
Hope these tips help to make your party planning easier. Do you have any tips you would like to share?