1. Pick a theme:
I find it easiest to pick a theme: Italian, Mexican, Indian, American,…..That way you are more focused when choosing recipes, all the food tastes good together ( you won’t have chips and salsa mixing into your sushi), often recipes from the same general area use similar ingredients (saves you time and money by not having a long grocery list and using 10 ingredients that you only need 1 Tablespoon of)
2. Room temperature is your friend:
When serving only appetizers try to have the majority of them able to be served at room temp, that way you aren’t running around the entire party trying to keep hot food hot and cold food cold, and your guests won’t have to be worried about food poisoning! Really a win win for all. Sample appetizer menu: Mini buttermilk biscuits with honey butter, Black eyed pea dip with carrots and cucumbers, Spicy kale chips, Watermelon kebobs, BBQ mini meatballs and lemon shortbread cookies.
3. For a sit-down Dinner, stews and braises are your friends:
If you are serving a sit down meal, make a braised or stewed entree. These dishes usually are very forgiving time wise and don’t need any last minute cooking on your part so you can enjoy your guests instead of all your time in the kitchen. Sample menu: Butter lettuce and snap pea salad with orange mustard vinaigrette and sliced almonds, Coq au Vin served with crusty bread, and pots de creme)
4. Dress up your food:
Make the food look as pretty as possible, we eat with our eyes first. Generous sprigs of Italian parsley or cilantro tucked here and there on a platter looks beautiful, plus it’s cheap!
5. Arrange your buffet thoughtfully:
When arranging a buffet have plates at one end and napkins and silverware at the other, that way your guests won’t have to hold onto forks and spoons while they try to dish up a plate. Arrange platters at varying heights not only to create a more visually interesting buffet but it can also create more space of platters. Use cake stands, upside down bowls, a stack of books to balance a plate on etc.
6. Guests are happy that they didn’t have to cook:
Last of all remember its only food so relax! The majority of your guests will be so happy that they didn’t have to cook that they will be very lax on judging your culinary skills.