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Entertaining ?; Advice Sought

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I chair the board of a non-profit agency. Our board is comprised of 24 people, and we have 10 senior staff members (plus another 100+ FTEs). My wife and I hosting the board and senior staff, plus spouses, at our home on Saturday, March 1 at 6:30. The party theme is puzzles and games. We'll be about 50 people, from mid-30s to mid-70s. Everyone knows everyone else pretty well.

I had planned to prepare all of the food, but ran into time concerns and worries about finding staff to help serve and clean up. We now have a caterer. The plan is for 8 finger hors d'oeuvres (1 per person), plus a big cheese tray and lots of finger foods for dessert. (I'm doing the cheese and dessert. I'm also taking care of wine.) Cost for the caterer will be about $25 per person, including rentals and staffing.

I don't want a sit-down dinner. My worry is that people will realize, along about 7:30, that what they've had (paced, so that there'll be more food coming from time to time) is what there is, and start figuring out what restaurant they should go to for dinner. One thought is to dump the hors d'oeuvres, leave the cheese tray and use the $25 per for a pasta and salad dinner that can be served at about 7:30. We have enough sitting areas to catch most everyone, on couches, chairs, etc. My worry, with this plan, is that people will eahc and leave at 8 or so.

Thoughts (and telling me not to worry so much is not helpful)?

Thanks. .

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  1. I like the idea of the pasta and salad dinner. I think it will be less nerve wracking than trying to pace the food exactly. And will be more clear to people. The cheese will tide people over until dinner.

    I gather that you want to keep people there so they mingle. Hence the puzzles and games theme. I think you can do that two ways. By letting everyone know that your sensational dessert will be served later. Maybe with cocoa or other drinks? And by "promoting" the games. Like letting everyone know there will be clever prizes for game players.

    Just keep the dinner simple. And promote the games and dessert to keep everyone involved and together.

    1 Reply
    1. re: karykat

      I really think that 6:30 on a saturday night is the dinner hour so I would reccommend doing a dinner. The caterer should be able to do some really good for $ 25.00 PP as dinner menu's are usually not near as labor intense as making appetizers for a crowd.. I would reccommend Italian as well and stick to something like a manicotti which is very easy to do for a crowd a nice big Italian salad bread sticks .

    2. If people arrive at 6:30 and dinner isn't served until 7:30 than you have to make sure it is fairly substantial as they will be hungry. From what I understand from your thread...the $25.00 per person is not just for food but also for staff and rentals. This is important to know because the $25 is not for food alone. Basically, I read that the caterer was providing 8 bites ( 1 bite each of 8 finger foods) which isn't a lot of food. Even though cheese will fill people up.... it isn't something that a lot of people like before a dinner. (I used to cater). I would sit down with my caterer (they are the experts) and have a chat of what they could do for you and than maybe think about some things that you might be able to pick-up ready made and supplement the meal with that. I can't imagine people rushing out the door right after dinner. Maybe play some of your games and than serve dessert at a later hour. Sounds like a fun night. Hope you can have fun! You were smart to think of servers....this will help you enjoy your evening.

      1. I have some suggesions if you are a grill guy. It may throw your party in a totally different way than you were thinking but we have done the mexican theme with grilled meat from La Noria (little authentic mexican market on Prince and 1st) several times for large groups and it is always a hit, I mean huge hit!. If it is something you would consider reply and I will go into the detials of prep. You can still hire help for the serivce and clean up and have the satisfaction of preparing the food yourself! I am telling you you won't be disappointed and neither will your guests.

        2 Replies
        1. re: gchiker3

          Thanks. For religious reasons I'm pretty committed to fish and dairy. Your idea is filed away for a future party, though!

          1. re: lawyerbriefs

            you could still do a mexican theme... rice'n'beans, enchiladas, etc.

            or you could do a down home chili and cornbread, collards, etc.

            for dairy, a variety of pastas could be cheap, or lasagna, or mac'n'cheese...

            these are of course less formal, more buffet type eats...

        2. Thanks for your thoughts. I'm regrouping and rethinking, as dinner is clearly necessary (and the budget may need to grow a bit, too!)