Party Food Makes the Party a Success
When throwing a party give adequate thought to the food you will be serving. It is more important than the decorations. The food is what the guests will remember. Great food will make the guests want to return in the future. Poor quality food, or an inadequate quantity of food, will make future parties lack enthusiastic guests. Build your party around a generous arrangement of food, nicely presented, for the enjoyment of your guests.
The Basic Types of Party Food
Party food can be either finger food, food transformed into finger food using stuffed patties, or food served in small bowls. A mixture of these, especially with several foods from each type, gives the guest a variety of food to sample. Remember, some people have food allergies, some are vegan, and some simply have strong disliking for certain dishes, so providing a variety of dishes will make eating at your party a pleasant experience for all of your guests. Just remember to have some filling items even though they may be the least creative options. Some delicious items are not that filling.
Basically, most hors d’oeuvres are acceptable, but some just work much better than others.
I will concentrate on food other than desserts here, since just about any dessert can be served at a party. A nice assortment of what you feel will work well is advised. You probably know your guests, and it is likely that you know what they like.
Soup is much like dessert in that most soups will work. There are so many kinds of soup that it would not be appropriate to select a few for this article.
Party Food Food Served in Small Shells
Oysters Rockefeller or Oysters Bienville can be served as a real special dish. Place the fully cooked dish in a small, bite size pastry shell, then heat until the shell is also warm. Spread the shells on a tray and either set the tray out or pass it around. The oysters can be on the bottom of the shell, or can be chopped and mixed in. In either case, cook the oysters. Grilling will probably work best for the oysters, but steaming is always an option.
What if you do not have oysters? Make an eggplant casserole and fill some of the shells. This also works for crab cooked as a casserole, or even shrimp. For shrimp, use medium shrimp. Large shrimp may be too large for the shells. Also, with shrimp, it is necessary to ensure that each pastry shell gets one nice size shrimp.
If multiple casseroles for shells are being prepared, they can all be warmed simultaneously. But, since some people will certainly avoid certain dishes, the dishes should be separated and labeled before serving.
Party Food Stuffed Eggs
Eggs are boiled and cut in half, so the two halves are both the length of the whole egg. Remove the yellow yoke, and place the yoke in a bowl. Next, add seasoning. Parsley and chives work well. Finely chop some dill pickles and some olives. Add some of each of the finely chopped seasoning to mayonnaise, and mix with the yokes. The seasoning should not prevent the mixture from having a yellow color because of the yokes. Stuff the mixture, which is about half yokes and half seasoning, into the cavities in the white parts of the eggs. Sprinkle paprika over the top surface and serve.
Party Food Artichoke Balls
The video below shows a step by step preparation of artichoke balls. For vegetarians, the chicken stock can be replaced with a vegetable stock. And, since raw eggs, which also must be substituted for vegetarians, are used to bind the ingredients, warm for enough time to cook the egg wash.
Artichoke balls can be eaten with the fingers, but are better served with toothpicks. Using ornamental plastic picks can add a dimension to your party.
Party Food Shrimp Pasta
Small bowls of pasta can be served. Shrimp pasta, where shrimp and the pasta used, is boiled for about ten minutes. The shrimp used should be medium size. You do not want large shrimp that may not fit into a person’s mouth in one bite. Serve with an Alfredo sauce, and this will be a party hit. Add you can use cooked crab meat either in lieu of the shrimp or in addition to the shrimp as options.
Party Food Jambalaya
Jambalaya is a rice based dish, served in a plate or a bowl with a fork. The rice is seasoned, and it is best to buy a jambalaya mix for this. Cooking is similar to cooking rice.
To this seasoned rice is added one or more of shrimp, sausage, or chunks of chicken. Any sausage or chicken used should be cooked, then added before the rice and seasoning are cooked. This allows the meat to also become seasoned, and the meat to contribute to the flavoring of the rice.
Shrimp cook quickly, so the shrimp can be boiled in the boiling mixture if added raw when the rice first boils, and allowed to boil for about ten minutes. If the shrimp are cooked ahead of time, add the shrimp just a minute of two before the cooking finishes to avoid overcooking the shrimp.
Party Food Miniature Muffalettas
This is a very big hit when served. The bun is the important part. Start with a round bun about two inches in diameter, and if the top of the bun has sesame seeds it should be just right. Spread olive oil on the bottom halves of the buns. Layer cheese, provolone and mozzarella, along with quality ham and a hard salami, then add a generous layer of olive salad. Warm until the bun is nice, and serve.
Some people wait with the olive salad until the heating is complete. Options are to substitute for the cheese or meat with the cheese or meat you prefer.
The only problem with muffalettas is that once they are tasted there is a problem if you underprepare. Make plenty.
Party Food Skewers
Use skewers to grill, then transfer to toothpicks. For serving, use toothpicks as skewers and make short skewers of beef, pork, shrimp, or vegetables, adding what you like between the pieces. Two or three pieces per skewer makes a fine party food.
Cook these as you would normally cook a full-length skewer.
For an article on grilling baskets see Amazing Grilling Baskets. Grilling baskets are great at problem solving. Grilled food is less likely to break apart, loss due to food falling into the fire is reduced, and cooking becomes more uniform.
Party Food Fried Finger Food
Fried food is quick and easy to prepare, just coat and fry as you normally would. The problem is keeping the servings bite size.
Fried options include chicken in the form of nuggets, strip, wings, or small drumsticks, fish, shrimp, and oysters. A vegetable that can be cut, breaded, and fried is eggplant.
The use of toothpicks will help keep your guests from having greasy fingers. Remember, as people migrate about a room they often meet and shake hands with others. A good host or hostess does not place the guests in a potentially embarrassing situation. Of course, if you opt for chicken wings or drumsticks the toothpick is not very useful.
Fried seafood can be served, if the guests have a place to sit, with cocktail sauce or with tartar sauce. Eggplant works well with marinara sauce.
Party Food Miniature Meatballs
Miniature meatballs are often a good staple, but some people will pass on them due to the sauce. They can drip as they are picked up, and this can be messy.
Adding grape jelly to the sauce can make an interesting, pleasant taste.
Party Food Hamburger and Hot Dog Sliders
Miniature hamburgers that can be eaten in just a few neat bites are currently becoming popular. Small hot dogs, or sausage, can also make good sliders.
Party Food Cheese, Fruit, and Vegetable Trays
The tray, often sold made up, can help with adding to the options your guests have. If you are involved in making a myriad of other dishes, consider buying and opening a tray. You can devote your time to other dishes, and simply open and serve prepared trays.
Party Food Finger Sandwiches
The finger sandwiches served at a party are not intended to be fancy, they are intended to have something your guests can eat and be satisfied. Fancy food can mean hungry guests. Feed them sandwiched along with the other party food.
These can also be obtained already made. The tradition is to cut the sandwiches into fourths. If possible, use at least two types of bread for variety.
The sandwiches normally used are roast beef, ham, turkey, egg salad, and tuna salad.
As with the trays above, consider the finger sandwiches as something that will be ordered, opened, and set out.
Party Food For Longer Parties
For a longer party be prepared to refrigerate food, especially seafood, as long as possible before serving. Swapping out a tray of food should be done in a way that does not allow the food to go bad. And, do refrigerate quickly after use.
If the food is to be served cold, consider placing it over ice.
For an article of party safety please visit Party Food and Safety.
Party food is often out for a period of time. Make certain the food is safe when eaten. There are items available to help with this.
Special Occasion Parties
Some holidays have their own decorations, which include serving items like party plates. Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween have their own themed items. In addition, cookie cutters often have a holiday theme.