Sunday, February 2, 2020

Party for 18 friends and family

Well I guess I needed a project! Here's how it worked out.

I bought 4 dinner plates, 3 mugs, serving tray, ladle and ice tongs at Goodwill. Full price for a 9 x13 baking dish as I used to have 2 but only moved one as I got sick of packing dishes. I did look at Goodwill first, didn't find one, paid full price and washed it then next stop at Goodwill there was a perfect one for $1. Sigh.

Borrowed a crock pot and pasta pot with strainer from my son and DIL. My inventory showed I had enough of every other equipment for cooking and serving including enough places to sit. We were able to use our dining table to serve the food and a separate table for drinks which worked well.

Decided I needed a theme to plan a menu as I'm not used to cooking for a crowd and picked Italian as that is pretty easy, cost effective and most everyone likes it. I also wanted things that could be prepared ahead of time with just last minute heating not preparation. And then there is knowing that guests are lactose sensitive/intolerant, diabetic or Keto - oh my. At some point I decided to offer options, label them as needed, and figure people were used to taking care of their own dietary restrictions! Turns out no one is dairy intolerant, a former heavy meat eater has stopped eating meat, etc.

I'm curious how far others go in modifying their dinner party menus to acommodate dietary restrictions of their guests?

MENU: The items in bold were the hits!


  • Caprese and antipasto skewers
  • Veggie tray
  • Hummus
  • Dried fruit and nuts (this surprised me)
  • Crackers, olives and salami
  • Italian green bean salad (green beans with sun dried tomatoes, almonds and vinaigrette)
  • Cheesy meatballs with pasta sauce
  • Pasta veggie bake (with and without cheese) - could have made only one!
  • Bread & butter 

  • Apple cinnamon galettes
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Small chocolate biscotti
  • Decaf coffee 
  • Tea
Drinks: Guests also brought 2 bottles of wine one of which was opened and finished
  • Aperol Spritz cocktail (this was a big hit!) 
  • Pinot Noir
  • Chardonnay
  • Beer
  • Sparkling flavored water
So how did it go?

We had a very warm day for winter with a high of 81! We were able to have the doors open for the party which kept the house nice. The tables were set up, chairs rearranged, and music ready to play. I had made the meatballs, pasta bakes, and galettes in advance. Once all the food was prepared I had room to stage the dessert supplies in the kitchen.

Two guests cancelled at the last minute so there were 16 of us and the house easily could have accommodated 8 more. It seemed that everyone had a good time. We were glad our son and DIL volunteered to do kitchen/serving duty to free us up to visit although we also helped. We all can see why people hire a kitchen helper for big parties!

I achieved my goal of having very little trash/recycling by using washable plates, glasses, coffee cups and silverware. Just napkins and the appetizer paper plates plus bits of tossed food. And of course wine bottles. It's hard to figure exactly how much we spent because LEFTOVERS (!) but I think it was about $15 a person with the alcohol included.

We bought way too much wine and beer, but split the leftovers with our son and DIL so no problem there. Quite a few meatballs and one pan of pasta bake leftover - also split. Just a tiny bit of the green bean salad, appetizer skewers, galettes and ice cream left though and if everyone had come they would have been gone.

I learned to never again make a veggie tray for a party though. Too healthy it seems LOL. We do eat a lot of vegetables and salads though so no problem using them up and they are what I would buy anyway.

We had music playing but hadn't planned any entertainment so what happened was impromptu. Guests who don't live in this community looked around our home and asked one of our neighbors to show them their home too (just a few houses over). Hubby pulled out his telescope and aimed it at the moon so people could have a look. He, his drum teacher (a professional drummer neighbor) and another guest who plays drums gave the drum set some love. All in all a good party!

It was fun and something that I would do again. Next one will be a potluck though!


  1. It sounds as if your party was a big success. Better too much than not enough.

    God bless.

    1. Thanks - I think it was a success. If the other 2 guests had shown up then I think we would have been on target except for the alcohol and veggie platter!

  2. I'm glad your party went as planned. Sounds wonderful, I wish I had been there. It's hard to get good Italian around here.

    1. It would have been fun to have you and others of my online friends here! I have actually met 3 in person. Two are fairly local and one from Australia.

  3. I provide what I think is a varied menu and allw people, as you say, to take care of their wn issues. I do try to have some kind of gluten free dessert (a flan works really well) if I know someone has a real gluten allergy. But otherwise it can make you crazy. In my experience everyone except the most extreme vegan can take care of them selves with a halfway well rounded menu.

    1. I didn't even think about gluten free! Great idea.

  4. What a success. You will be glad for the leftovers when are you tired tomorrow from playing hostess today or yesterday. The only party we ever hosted was for PC's baseball team. We bought a keg and had soo much beer leftover. I was very surprised. Yay for being so environmentally conscious. I am afraid we used paper plates for our party. But I think we had about 40 guests. I would never have had enough silverware or plates for that many. Potluck next time for us, too!

    1. Yes, the amount of drinking seems to have decreased considerably since we have gotten older. Of course the only recent comparison I had was my Atlanta book club which more realistically should have been called wine club!

  5. It sounds as if you planning really paid off and the party sounds fantastic. I have done crudités and veggie platters in the past. They were colourful but not eaten, like yours. Still they could be used for salad and casseroles. Don’t get me started on food allergies/ food fads/ vegan/ dairy free etc. I sympathise with those who have true allergies but so many young people are adopting strange food fads. I’m not sure excluding whole food groups from your diet is the way to be healthy for most people.
    Put your feet up and bask in the success

  6. Well done, Juhli! Dinner parties for a large group can be exhausting, but I love the afterglow when all goes well, and it appears your's did and then some. 😊

    With the dietary issues getting older seems to deliver, I generally inquire about issues ahead of time, and then present the menu via email or text a few days before the event.

    1. Oh, the menu email ahead of time is a good idea!

  7. Potlucks are the way to go. Several years ago a group of my gal pals had a SOUPER BOWL Party to which each of us brought a slow cooker full of our favorite soup/chili recipe. The hostess provided the toppings ie. cornbread muffins, oyster crackers, shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped onions, etc. plus a couple of desserts. Each guest had let her know in advance what we planned to bring to avoid duplication. She also furnished take out containers so each of us were able to take home an assortment of delicious leftovers. Although none of us were big football fans, can't even remember who was playing, the game was on and we enjoyed the half-time show and commercials (unlike what aired last night, most of which in my opinion sucked...wish they would bring back the Bud Clydesdales).

    1. That sounds like a fun party! Since this was the first time we entertained the friends we have made since moving here I wanted to do it myself but next time is a potluck for sure! I'm thinking a Cinco de mayo theme for Mexican food.

  8. I'm so sad... We must have missed our invite! It all looks so tasty! I don't do much hoop jumping for special diets unless it is an allergy or religious objection. Otherwise you can find something to eat at our table. The biggest challenge was when our gluten-free (medical) DIL had been prescribed paleo for a stretch by her MD, and another son's girlfriend was vegan. That makes for interesting menu planning... I keep the salad edible for all, make sure there's a grain/legume side dish, and a meaty stew, or something from the grill. And usually a big bowl of grilled veggies.


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