So I have had a request for menu planning for a drop in party. Around here, we actually love the drop in party. In fact, before the kids were born, we had a New Years Day open house every year. For me, it’s a fall back to the open houses my parents did when I was a kid. We like this type of party, because it’s easy, and people feel less pressure. As well, since we had it spread out throughout the day, we had the time to sit and chat with our guests. A winning combination.
That being said, people come, and you have to feed them. Since our parties were during the day, we didn’t worry about alcohol, but that might be an issue for you, depending on your crowd.
So here are some suggestions for a menu.
Go with finger foods. You want things that people can pick up and eat easily, without the need for lots of cutlery. This saves you time (if you wash the cutlery) and money (if you use disposable). As well, you avoid too much waste (disposable cutlery is a poor environmental choice). As an aside, if you do need cutlery, plates, cups, etc and you don’t have enough of your own, one economical way to avoid disposable is to rent them. The price is not that high, and for the convenience of someone dropping off clean items and picking up the dirty ones, you cannot go wrong!
Don’t worry about a main course. People are coming to see you, not to have a meal. And if they are hungry, a varied assortment of appetizers and desserts will fill them up quite nicely.
- A nice assortment of cheeses on a pretty plate. Don’t forget the cheese knife. Add in a variety of crackers.
- Bruschetta. This dish of tomatoes and onions is nice and light, and wonderful on top of crusty bread or thick, breadlike crackers.
- Cut up vegetables and a simple dip. Really, the best dip is simply sour cream (you can use low fat) mixed with onion soup powder. Always gets compliments.
It’s always nice to include something warm. Preferably, that can be eaten at room temperature as well, but it’s nice to bring things out of the oven periodically. Choose several varieties, or keep it simple and elegant.
- Mini quiches (buy premade mini crusts, or go crustless and use a muffin tin);
- Egg rolls (you can get nice ones in big boxes at the grocery store. We use vegetarian ones, but you don’t have to).
- If you have a Costco, they have big boxes of premade mini appetizers. We don’t use them, simply because they have meat in them, but they are really nice, and not too expensive.
- Stuffed mushrooms. Always a hit, and REALLY easy.
I’m not a huge dessert fan. Or, at least, I’m not a huge fan of making desserts. Of course I love to eat them – who doesn’t! I’ll be honest – I often pawn off the desserts on my friends or family. But I do have a few suggestions, so don’t worry!
- Fruit platter. Don’t forget the fruit platter. You can cut up your own fruit, or for a few additional dollars, pick up a premade platter from your local grocery store. Yes, it costs a bit more, but the time is absolutely worth it. And you’ll usually get a nice variety of fruit. This will require forks, however, so be forewarned.
- Cookies. Lots of them. If you are so inclined, go themed, and decorate like crazy. Be sure you include things with chocolate, and things without. Not everyone binges on chocolate like me. Chocolate or Chocolate chip, oatmeal and shortbread or butter are a nice variety. You can bake, or buy.
- Squares. Some people love ‘em, some people hate ‘em. Brownies or nanaimo squares are always a good choice if you have chocoholics on your guest list. Both can be bought at a bakery or grocery store. I don’t know how to make Nanaimo squares, but I do have a brownie secret: Choose a good mix, then substitute concentrated orange juice for the liquid. Yum!
- Cake? Pie? Torte? Go with your preference. Not necessary, but a nice touch. Again, you will require forks for this item, so be warned.