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Party Pleasing Foods

Party_Pleasing_FoodsMost parties have a theme a lot of the typical party themes have to do with holidays or special events. Throughout history certain foods and dishes have become synonymous with these special holidays and events. While it is always a safe idea to stick with tradition, there is also a certain benefit from trying out new and unusual dishes or even using classical ingredients in new ways. Finding just the right food for your party doesn't have to be difficult if you spend a bit of time looking around at the many websites on the internet or browsing through cookbooks at the library or on the bookstore shelves.

The first decision that has to be made regarding food is if you are planning on having a sit down dinner or meal, a buffet style meal, or simply providing finger foods for guests to pick and choose and snack on throughout the event. Regardless of whether or not you will be preparing the foods yourself or if you are planning on hiring a caterer the first choice is the style of serving you wish to have.

Serving Style

There are pros and cons to each particular style of serving. The sit down meal offers a uniform serving time, allows a guest to relax while food is served, as well as provides a more formal atmosphere. Sit down meals can be either family style where the guests help themselves, or the food can be plated and served to the guests, restaurant style. Most formal dinner parties and receptions use the plated style whereas home dinner parties frequently use the family style approach.

Buffet style is great in that it allows the host or hostess to set up the food in one location and even use heated serving trays to keep food warm. The buffet style allows guest to pick and choose from an array of foods and also makes it easy for guest to help themselves to seconds and even thirds!

Finger foods are often set up in a buffet type style although they are not meant to be a sit down meal as a full buffet is. Often less formal parties use a menu of finger foods to provide guests with something to munch on while they are visiting.

Ideas For Foods

Once you have determined the style of serving or food you will be providing the next step is to determine what exactly to serve. If you know your guests well you may want to choose a favorite item, or perhaps you would like to pick a theme for your food selection. There are some foods that just seem to match better with the various types of serving styles, so below are some party themes and food ideas.

The menu options for a traditional sit down formal dinner often include:

- Soup or salad to start
- Roast beef, chicken, duck, goose or fish
- Mashed potato, baked potato, rice, pasta dish 
- Broccoli, carrots, green peas, green beans, mixed vegetables
- Dessert : chocolate cake, fruit pie, cheesecake

A less traditional approach might be to include a vegetarian dish rather than a meal dish, or to have a different vegetable such as eggplant parmesan, baked baby squash or other seasonal vegetable for your party food. A fresh fruit trifle or a bowl of fresh fruit to finish the meal can be a refreshing and much lighter ending to a perfect dinner.

Buffet style meals can include virtually anything from starter salads, through to entrees and even desserts. The buffet may be built on a theme or it may be a collection of foods that are favorites of various guests. Party food is supposed to be fun and great tasting so choosing foods that you know your guest will enjoy is a sure way to provide that. Some ideas for a lunchtime buffet style dinner include:

- A green salad, coleslaw, pasta salad and layered salad
- A choice of soups, one cream based and one stock based
- Sliced cold cuts and cheeses
- Assortments of dinner roles, sliced bread and crackers
- Assorted raw vegetables and dips
- Potato chips of various kinds
- Various kinds of pickles
- Cookies
- Tarts 
- Squares or brownies

An evening buffet style meal may have other types of party foods including:

- Assorted salads of various kinds
- Soups
- Twice baked potatoes or rice dishes
- Pasta dishes
- Sliced roast beef or fried/oven roast chicken/ baked salmon or other types fish
- Hot vegetables
- Assorted fruit
- Pies, pastries or individual desserts

Theme buffets could include Mexican foods such as nachos, enchiladas, burritos and for dessert empanadas. Asian style buffets could include egg rolls, sweet and sour chicken, steamed rice, beef and broccoli and fortune cookies and fresh fruit for dessert. Virtually any culture could be included in a buffet style dinner and would be a unique way to explore foods from different countries.

Finger foods are great for after work get togethers or parties that start after the normal evening meal. A selection of foods that are simple to eat when standing or moving about gives guests a little something to nibble on. Party foods can either be located in one area or can be spread throughout the room or rooms. Consider preparing the following finger foods:

- Roll-up sandwiches made with tortillas instead of bread and sliced sideways to give a round shape.
- Quiche tarts
- Chicken wings
- Fresh vegetables and dip
- Assorted chips and crackers
- Cubed cheeses
- Grapes, strawberries and sliced varieties of melons

Party foods that are easy to eat also include assorted types of nuts, pretzels and varieties of pickles, olives and preserved vegetables. Be creative and experiment with new and different recipes but don't be afraid to stick with the tried and true standbys as well.

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