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dinner party sans real seating

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this weekend i am hosting a laid back dinner party for 8 friends at my boyfriends house. unfortunately, he doesn't have a table large enough for all of us to sit down and have a proper meal.

i'm looking for suggestions for food i can make that meets the following criteria:

1. is impressive- i want to make a memorable meal!
2. isn't terribly labor intensive- some of these friends are coming from out of town and i'd like to ba able to spend some time with them rather than being tied to the kitchen all weekend.
3. can be eaten standing up or on your lap

one last thing to consider: i cook pretty regularly for the so and myself but this will be the largest crowd i've ever cooked for.

thanks in advance! :)

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  1. I'm sure you'll get lots of suggestions for a menu of small plates that can be managed will standing, but you also could rent a table and chairs. It is pretty inexpensive to rent these items, along with a tablecloth and linen if he doesn't have that either.

    1. I vote buffet. That way no one's eating all at the same time, it's less structured, etc. etc.

      1. Some friends of ours used to hold a yearly St. Patricks Day party. They had so many friends when they were living here that it was impossible to have enough tables to accomodate every one. They served corned beef and cabbage but it wasn't too hard to eat the meal sitting in chairs/sofas. Maybe you could make something with a slow cooked meat that is tender and doesn't need cutting. As I recall, they cut the veggies small so they were easy to handle. They also served it buffet style.

        1. I'd set up a 'bar' of sorts. Maybe a chili bar? Big pot of chili with all the fixin' in little bowls. Fresh baked corn bread as a side. Your guest can serve themselves and just hold one bowl.

          Or a faijita bar.

          1 Reply
          1. re: OnceUponABite

            Or a taco bar. I've done this in the past, when I could only seat six but wanted to make dinner for 15. Prepare Mexican-style shredded beef & chicken, beans, rice, salsa, lettuce, shredded cheese, guacamole, sour cream, jalapeƱo slices, hot sauce, and crisp taco shells (store-bought or homemade) and let your guests assemble their own.

            Add a case of Dos Equis and a pitcher of margaritas and I guarantee you a happy crowd!

          2. If you look in the baked ziti thread there is a great-looking recipe for baked manicotti that you could make ahead. Serve tha and an interesting salad (Fine Cooking had a terrific arugula, red grapefruit and almond salad recently), maybe some bread, and you have a delicious meal, easy to eat one-handed or from your lap.

            And setting up the food as a buffet is a great idea. Use any surface available -- kitchen counter, sideboard, desk -- I have a friend who used the top of her dog's crate!