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Q: How do I set a buffet table?
Q: How do I go about hosting a Brunch?
Q: How can I arrange my centerpieces or flowers so it’s more fun?
Q: What non-food things do I need for a fun, no-hassle party?
Q: What do I need to think about when planning a dinner party?
Q: What things should I include in a basic menu for a casual dinner party?
Q: I love lemon-flavored desserts, what do you recommend?
1) How do I set a buffet table?
A. Buffets are a great option when the gathering is less formal or you’re short of table space. Follow some tips when planning a buffet:
- Buffets can be set up on a variety of surfaces, including a center island or counter, dining room table, sideboard, picnic table or folding table. Remember to allow ample room for people to move around the serving area.
- Arrange buffet items starting with the main course and then the side dishes, salad, condiments, bread, flatware, with glasses and napkins last.
- If people will be standing to eat, skip paper plates and use dishes or plastic plates. If you must use paper, make sure they are heavy-duty. Avoid serving foods that require cutting.
2) How do I go about hosting a Brunch?
A: Day Before:
- Wash and cut all produce (except fruits that can discolor, like apples and bananas). Store in separate bags and containers.
- Prepare uncooked egg mixtures; cover and refrigerate. Whisk or stir before using.
- Slice breads for French toast; place in food-storage bags.
- Make juices or beverage mixtures; cover and refrigerate. Don’t stir in last-minute additions, such as carbonated beverages or alcohol.
- Prepare the coffeemaker so that it’s ready in the morning.
- Set the table and gather serving dishes and utensils.
- Place hot beverages in thermal carafes or slow cookers.
- Keep pancakes warm until ready to serve by placing uncovered in a single layer on a paper towel-lined cookie sheet in a 200°F oven.
3) How can I arrange my centerpieces or flowers so it’s more fun?
A: There is no rule that says you need a centerpiece to make your table special. A bunch of flowers or a few simple stems add instant color to your table. Here are some tips:
- Look around your house for creative containers. Drinking glasses, jelly jars large or small mixing bowls even perfume bottles make instant flower holders. Just make sure your guests can see easily around and over the arrangement.
- Arrange colorful spring flowers in a tea kettle or small watering can.
- Wrap a vase with fabric or decorative art paper, and tie with a ribbon to match your bouquet.
- Float a flower in a dish at each person’s place
- Tuck fresh herbs and flowers into small bottles or juice glasses filled with water.
4) What non-food things do I need for a fun, no-hassle party?
A: Run down this checklist for all you need to serve food and drinks with little to no cleanup.’
- Party plates—buy both small 7 inch and large 12 inch plates. Plastic or heavy duty coated paper ones are the sturdiest.
- Cups—Stock up on the 16 oz drink cups (look for the colorful sturdier plastic ones) and 9 oz hot cups for coffee and even soups. Don’t forget to pick up ice.
- Bright paper napkins—Pick up some small cocktail napkins plus the larges dinner size.
- “Silverware”—Buy knives, forks and spoons that come in colorful durable plastic; they’re washable and reusable.
- Party picks—Toothpicks work fine, but the colorful longer plastic are sturdier.
- Serving trays—Party stores carry sturdy platters in clear plastic and silver. They are perfect platters, plus they are reusable!
- Wicker baskets—A couple of shallow wicker baskets (about 10 and 15 inches) come in handy for serving breads, fresh vegetables, berries, grapes and cookies.
- Packet of colorful plastic straws—Get them in fun colors or with stripes.
5) What do I need to think about when planning a dinner party?
- Plan the main course first and then plan the other foods to compliment.
- Consider where you will serve the food–at the dining table or at a picnic.
- Make sure flavors go together. For example if your main course is on the heavier side, choose a light dessert but if your meal was lighter why not ending with an indulging dessert?
- Check oven temperatures for each of your plates, if they are different you may want to reconsider your selections.
- Think about time of day and time of year. People often expect a lighter meal at lunch and a hearty meal for dinner. The season and weather also make the difference. Also, don’t forget to serve seasonal, fresh produce.
- Serve what you love to cook and eat. There is no need to surprise your guests with exotic kitchen dishes. If you serve good that you like to make, your friends and family are sure to enjoy it, too.
6) What things should I include in a basic menu for a casual dinner party?
- Appetizer or Soup
- Salad and bread
- Main dish and side dishes (such as pasta, rice, potato or vegetables)
- Dessert (that is when you often will serve the coffee or hot tea)
7) I love lemon-flavored desserts, what do you recommend?
A. Lemon lovers would love any of these lemony sweet treats!