Thursday, May 3, 2012

Party Ideas with Tara

I love to host. I love to party plan. I love to make events welcoming and beautiful.

I’m not like those fancy bloggers who make the party pictures perfect, but I make the party attender awesome so I’m into that.

Last year I hosted a Bridal Shower for a friend (Candace) and one of the women who was there emailed me recently asking what I did for the food because she was really impressed.

I was very flattered…and amused because I keep to a very simple food plan. Tasty for sure, but easy for me as well!

I thought I would do a post outlining what I do when I’m going to throw something like a bridal shower or ladies tea or light lunch…or even really any sort of party.

Party Planning Ideas with Tara

Obviously I always start by thinking about what the party is for.

If it is a birthday party or bridal shower I like to plan some food I know that person loves. For example at Candace’s bridal shower we had more sweets than normal because my girl Candy loves the sweets. If it were a party for me, you’d better include more savorie appies, nothing fusion and there better be some salt and vinegar chips!

If it is a party for men then I go with a meat theme. Always. For Prakash’s stag I know that he loves to go to the pub, to BBQ and to do interesting things with food. So we did a selection of hearty pub appies and gourmet burgers with every fixing I could think of.

Then I make sure I know the timing and the amount of people – I’ve seen people prepare food for parties that took place over lunch or dinner, but the food was prepared as if it were between a meal time. These things are small but they affect the whole mood of an event.

Alright…so on to food.

Basically I have found there are a few appies that I can serve at any party. They are popular, they are easy and they are inexpensive (relatively). I do most of my shopping at Costco and that saves me so much time, hastle and money.


Boursin and Crackers

I buy these both at Costco. You will have enough for two parties or one big party. The cheese lasts for at least a month or two and the crackers last as long as they are sealed tight.

If you buy Rainforest Crisps and Boursin at Safeway you’re paying $14. If you buy them at Costco you’re getting double the amount for $14. The Boursin comes in a double pack at Costco and Diva’s Delightful Crisps (which taste the same as Rainforest) are three times the size!

Just plate them with a knife and voila!

Hummus and Pita Chips

I use this hummus recipe and buy Stacy’s Pita Chips. The chips are quite pricey at most grocery stores, but again at Costco you can buy in bulk and it’s much more reasonable…plus you’ll need bulk! And you’ll want to use some of these chips in one of my later food suggestions.

Veg & Dip Platter

Self explanatory but needed. You can use either Hummus or dressing for this.

Cheese, meat & cracker plate

Again, obvious. I generally stick with a german sausage or rolled deli meats, a marbled cheese and a rice or multi grain cracker. It’s easy and simple.

You can go fancier with Brie cheese, breads and other types of fancy meats but I’m a fairly simple gal.

or just put out some cold cooked meat:

I always home make this with a package from safeway. I serve it with with salsa & chips

My aunt gave me this recipe. People always ask her for it. So simple. Use the package, also dice up a tomato really small and add it. For best results use Multi grain Tostitoes for dipping.

Spinach dip with bread chunks

I usually just buy this and everyone is happy.

Fruit with Dip

You can serve this like you would serve Veggies and Dip or you can skewer the fruit.

These last three are a bit more intensive but so worth it.

Shrimp Salad on Cucumber

I use this recipe. And oh is it tasty. I use Johnny’s Garlic Seasoning from Costco instead of what they recommend and it rocks!

Stuffed Mushroom Caps:

Make these!

Tara’s Crab Dip:

Artificial crab meat from costco (1-2 packages)
Cream Cheese, softened (1-2 portions)
Parmesan (for topping)
Johnny’s Garlic seasoning from costco (to taste)

Mix together except for parmesan, bake for 10-20 minutes (depending on your oven) until warmed through, top with parmesan and broil until brown. Serve immediately.

I serve with pita chips (mentioned above). It disappears quickly and I get asked for the recipe every time I serve it!

And lastly I pick easy desserts that the bride loves or that I just like to make

Some favorites:

Apple Brownies
Fruit Skewers
Chocolate Toffee
Cheesecake Caramel Pumpkin Cups
Chocolate Bark – I buy the Almond Bark in white and brown at Walmart and ad my own flavours.
Fudge – I buy the Carnation Boxed Fudge packages at Christmas in bulk and use them all year round.

And I usually shop Pinterest or google for one fun theme related dessert.
Here are some I've used: 
Grad Hats

Easter Egg Nests 

Turkey Cookies

Reindeer Cupcakes

And there you have it – you can’t go wrong with these options!

Then I just make sure I add some cute signs saying what the food is:

and make sure I have beverages for everyone
I have a selection of cold drinks: wine, beer, juice, pop, water, etc
And a selection of hot: hot chocolate, coffee, tea, chai, etc.

and voila. Bob's your uncle.
You've thrown a party.


nthecity said...

Great post! Candace's shower was so great!

LeAnna et David said...

i loved those turkey cookies. And I think your little signs and that something extra which takes it a step above.

also, my mum has never had boursin. How wrong is that? It's sooooooooooooo cheap in England so I eat it fairly regularly. I'm going to remedy this when she's here in the summer, unless you beat me to it.

Tara said...

Your mom hasn't had boursin? And she's was at Paul's party - where I served it! Terrible!

I can't believe it's cheap in England! I feel like that's amazing.

I love using it in Mashed Potatoes.

LeAnna et David said...

Well, then she may not have realised it. She mostly just complains about wanting to try it but it being too expensive.

Here's it's about GBP 2.39 for a package, so that's around $3.30. But dairy is really inexpensive here. I think there's an EU dairy subsidy.

Tara said...

Daaang, that is a good price. But at Costco I get 2 for $7.50 so it's pretty comprable, only in bulk though.

Well you can just make sure to make it super obvious when she gets to try it!


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