Cater Your Own Dinner Party: Tip-of-the-Day #208


My bf is turning 40 in a few weeks and I'm hosting a small dinner party in his honor. My initial thought was to have the "event" catered so that I could relax and enjoy the party, but after poking around and price shopping a bit I found it was far too expensive and ineffecient for a group of this size. Most caterers have minimums and I couldn't possibly get there with a head count of seven. And so, I decided to simply cater the evening myself! Here are some tips I've learned from hosting similar events and will pass them on to you if you're ever considering doing the same!

1. Pick foods/dishes you can prepare in advance. It's no fun if you have to be in the kitchen all night, prepping and heating and plating everyone's meals, so pick things that can be pre-prepared, like a charcuterie plate, a cold pasta salad or heirloom tomato salad with burrata cheese, sirloin served at room temp and/or homemade sushi!

2. Set up a self-serve "bar station". I wouldn't recommend setting up a full bar or you'll have people creating a chem lab right in your living room, but do set up a table with several options for wine and beer. This will relieve you, the hostess, from having to serve people all night and monitor glasses for receding alcohol lines. No fun.

3. Don't overcomplicate dessert. Don't feel you have to set anything aflame to make an impact. Go with something tried and true (and easy to serve). Even consider plating in advance of guests arriving.

4. Include party favors. I'm a big fan of creating a small gift that people can take home with them at the end of the evening so that they can remember the event. Mugs, hats, candy tins - all personalized with the name, date or a photo of the experience. It's a great personal touch.

Creating your own menu and tackling the majority of the preparation in advance of the event will save you a lot of money and let you enjoy the evening as well!

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