Part Two: Food & Beverage
Now that you’ve picked the kind of party that you want to have, we’re ready to graduate to Food and Beverage. New Year’s Eve is now three weeks away, and time’s a tickin’ – take your seat and let’s learn!
We’ll start with the bar because regardless of the kind of party you’re having (cocktail or dinner), champagne isn’t a “want,” it’s a “NEED.”
First, you’ll want to select the appropriate space. Talented event designer, Mitchell Crosby of JMC Events, Charleston, SC, notes “…it’s wise to put the bar as far from the front door and food as possible!” You want to strategically place the bar away from your front door so that you can draw your guests into your space, rather than letting them linger around the entrance. The second tip is less intuitive, as people usually think ‘I’ll want to drink something with my food, so why not put the two stations next to each other?’ Here’s why: putting both stations in close proximity will clog your space. People will be magnetically attracted to that area of your home for majority of the night, rather than circulating the party.
But, what should you serve? Unless you’re having a massive slumber party, remember to have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The designated drivers are thirsty, too. But, either way we suggest stocking your bar with your favorite drinks, and of course, champagne!
Experienced caterer Michelle Fishman of Main Event Catering, Washington, DC, suggests incorporating a champagne-concoction station for the event, which allows guests to mix-and-match their own flavors to create their perfect New Year’s tincture. She suggests stocking the station with “…champagne and maybe a sparkling rose, as well as ginger ale and assorted mixers; cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, St. Germaine’s, sprigs of rosemary or mint, possibly some candied ginger or just some fresh raspberries.”
Here’s an example of a create-your-own champagne bar, as suggested by Michelle Fishman of Main Event Catering.
And, her advice doesn’t stop there! She even lets us know how to set up the station: “Place all of the sparkling beverages on ice along one side of a table, glass pitchers filled with the mixers and small bowls of garnish on the other. You can go with disposable champagne flutes or glass!”
So, the takeaway message for the beverage aspect of your event? First, have drinks for everyone – both drinkers and designated drivers. Second, place your bar strategically. The farther away from the front door, the better, and make sure that it’s not directly next to the food station so there’s not a clog in the arteries of your party-flow. Third, open the doors for creativity! Consider adding an assortment of mixers, garnishes and fruits to the station.
If you’re serving cocktails, you’ll probably want to serve food with it. As we mentioned in last week’s blog, both cocktail and dinner parties feature snacks.
For the snacks, Michelle Fishman of Main Event suggests serving one-bite options. Think of things …” that you can eat with your hands and use only a beverage napkin,” Michelle said. “One of my favorite fillings is mushroom and brie (cooked diced Portobello mushrooms and brie cheese). Another easy item is purchase a package of raw boneless skinless chicken tenders, slice them in half if you feel they are too big, skewer them, then glaze them with apricot ‘jam’ and roll them in crushed pecans. Cook and serve room temp or hot!”
Main Event suggests serving your appetizers on sticks! They’re great finger foods without the mess. Photo courtesy of Sweet Tea.
The takeaway for snacks: keep it light, keep it small. Don’t think appetizers and hors d’oeuvres have to be an entire course – the simpler, the better, and no plates necessary. And, are your friends the kinds of people that are dying to help? Let them. Answer “what can I bring?” openly and honestly.
If you’re serving a dinner course, Michelle Fishman suggests prepping the meal the night before. “Prep and platter everything the day before that way you just need to place it out on the table or pop it in the oven for a few moments to take the chill off.” Michelle said. The one-step process keeps things simple – and trust us, as event and entertainment production professionals, when it comes to event production you’ll want to keep the areas that can be simple, simple.
An alternative to cooking the entire meal yourself is throwing a potluck-style dinner. This approach will help bring your crowd together as your guests enjoy the opportunity to taste each other’s dishes and swap recipes! Afraid of two people bringing the same dish? Assign them to a specific style: pasta, vegetable etc.
But, what about third meal? After a night of drinking, dancing and mingling, people are sure to be hungry. Leftovers are a great option (if there are any), but here’s a creative idea we love from Mitchell Crosby of JMC. “We love making Strata (egg and sausage casserole) a day ahead and throwing them in the oven at 11:30pm to cook through. They will be firm and can be placed on small plates with forks to pass out once the kissing and celebrating is done. No need for fruit, grits, hash browns. Make this a one-dish wonder and be done with it.”
So, this week you’re homework is brainstorm where you want your bar, and the items you want on it. You also need to brainstorm the small items you plan to have for snacks, and if you’re throwing a dinner party, the meal that you plan to serve!
Feeling overwhelmed and want a chance to talk to a professional? Comment below, and we’ll put you in touch with some of the pros!