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Adult Cocktail Party with a Kid's theme

I've been catering my brother's (and his now wife's) annual party for more than 15 years. We choose a theme, I do the food, my sis-in law does the decor and my bro locates the entertainment, does all the heavy lifting etc. They invite 100 of their firends and hire help for the bar and service.

This year they want to do a 'kids party' for adults - I guess they have been to too many birthday parties this year and just want to rebel. I'm a little iffy on the premise but have created a prelim/idea menu to begin the discussion. We have enough time to alter the theme if necessary.

As a backgound, we've done asian, new orleans, americana, 50's, 60's. steak house, wine tasting, fall harvest, etc over the years. (happy to share menus and 'make' plans)

I would appreicate any ideas, comments suggestions for this early menu. And no copying until the party is over!

PS - People come to EAT and most (not all!) have good to excellent palettes

Popcorn machine in the backyard with someone tossing gourmet popcorn on request (southwest, pesto, parm, garlic, asian, etc seasoning)

"Ice cream and cake" - passed platter of salmon tartare in cornets (ala French Laundry) and crab cakes
"Tomato soup and grilled cheese" - gazpacheo with truffle oil (I have an trying to get rid of my bottle of it) in 2oz glasses with grilled mushroom/cheese on bread triangles (can be passed or on a table)
"Mac and cheese" - in a chafing dish, creamed mac and cheese with lobster and tomatoes
"Nachos" - individual cups of traditional 7 layers or crab/fried grouper with avacado, etc
"Chicken Legs" - clean and wrapped drumettes (pushed up) grilled in some mariande with sauce
"Fish sticks" - tilapia and prochutto warpped around some kind of veggie
"Bacon and Eggs" - dressed bacon (spicy/sweet glaze) , cut french style scambled eggs on toasted bioche with some kind of sauce

Cheese, fruit, crudettes platters with breads, crackers and dips
Shrimp bowl and dips (always the fave)
nuts etc

Lamb popcycles - small chops (may be too expensive) or ground lamb shaped aound popcycle sticks
Meatballs - in chafing dish
Baloney sandwiches - rolled flatbread sandwiches filled with great meats and cheeses - crossed cut
"Pigs in blanket" (sausage in feuilles du brick)

"PB&J" - peanut truffles served with fruit jellies
"Poptarts" - fruit and cheese in filo
"Choco pudding" - chocolate mousse (with brownies) served in spoons

Drinks - choco kaluha milkshake or choco martini

Other food thoughts:

pizzettes made with puff pastry
squash or pear&pecorino ravioli (my fav dish) served in 2" individual dishes
something with a whole beef filet
pork loin/roast beef/turkey breasts and accompaniments for sandwiches
other small tidbits

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  1. I have heard of doing "PBJ"s with foie gras pate, a tart cherry or currant jam, and toasts.

    1. Looking at your fun menu I would say how about TV as a theme, sitcoms, family shows, even tv music themes as a theme. Purchase tv dinner tins to serve the food and your menu would work out really well!

      Have fun!

      1. Wow,this sounds totally amazing. Dredging up the past leads me to many of your suggestions, including mature versions of pizza, French fries, applesauce, juice boxes, French toast and pancakes (preferably cut into the shape of Mickey Mouse), mini cheese burgers, spaghetti-o's, lemonade, Hawaiian punch, hard boiled eggs, meatloaf, baked potatoes and lots of ketchup everywhere. Dessert ideas....how about some sophisticated versions of whoopie pies, Rice Krispie treats, smores, cup cakes, caramel apples, cotton candy, peanut butter cups, penny candy and some cool looking goodie bags? Great fun...what a good idea.

        1. I think some kind of snow cone with different flavors like sangria or lemoncello or mai tai etc, also some sort of pancakes would be fun, also ( I have a kid) so you have to do some kind of upscale chicken nugget I think maybe like a kobe beef slider with green chile mayo or something along the lines of hambuger /hot dog would be fun. Also maybe like a frozen gazpacho popcycle. Maybe some kind of homemade potato chip with like a maytag bluecheese dip or sweet potato fries with carmel and marshmellow dip, Tater tots would be another thing big in my childs world. What about tater tots with gormet chile and feta. Any way it sounds like a fun party you will have to play pin the tail on something and maybe rent a bounce house. Maybe add some pony rides and get a clown that makes animals out of balloons. Let us know what you decide.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Analisas mom

            I love the snow cone idea and will definately push to include it. My brother is the one doing the entertainment so, for the games, I hope he doesnt go from class to crass too quickly!

          2. Sounds fun. I second the tatertot idea...with maybe a gremolata. Maybe a gourmet corn dog. For your truffle oil...my friend made a appetizer with cocktails with popcorn, butter, chives and truffle oil that was really good.

            1. Love the ideas! and will definately use some of them (too many to do in a single party!) How about presentation ideas - eg how should the tables be decorated without being too silly?

              1 Reply
              1. re: alwayscooking

                I love the idea of incorporating vintage lunch boxes in your design. I have a great strawberry shortcake lunchbox (my brother has a star wars, my mom has davey crocket). If you can find enough they would look cute stacked in 3s on the tables.

                Also, have you seen the wine that comes packaged like a juice box? It may be too infantile but I love your theme so much.

              2. I like the adult sno-cone idea. Can do all sorts of liquor type toppings. Sangria, wine, etc. On the dessert theme, how about browned butter rice krispie treats (i remember seeing a recipe on this site for that). Or a "sundae" bar. Make some Olive oil gelato, and have bowls of sea salt, different types of cubed, macerated fruit, pizzelles, etc.. Or for the sundae bar have make your own profiterols with different types of gelato/ice cream.

                Also, someone else mentioned tater tots. A restaurant around here does bleu cheese tater tots. They are more like potato croquettes but are called tater tots.
                I think you also need some sort of pizza. Like grilled fig and prosciutto pizza. Or use cheese studded with truffles, which is amazing melted, called Sottocenere.
                For sandwiches, instead of salami and cheese get a nice hot soppresata with either fresh mozzeralla or provolone. Put on a ciabatta with argula and maybe roasted peppers. Instead of baloney, use mortadella.

                Maybe rent a small cotton candy machine and serve daquiaris or other cocktails with a small ball of cotton candy on top.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ESNY

                  I went to a resto in Ft. Worth that made tater tots with truffle oil mixed in. Very tasty.

                  For decor, of course lots of balloons. You can do more adult color mixes (jewel tones w/ silver or gold balloons). Maybe hire a magician who does adult patter / tricks in their act?

                2. So, I'm not sure how to make this pleasing to a more sophisticated palette, but what about ants on a log? Celery, Almond Butter, some other delicious dried fruit? I don't know, maybe ants on a log are best as the original.

                  Also, you really gotta have cookies/brownies of some sort. Maybe work cookies or brownies into something else there.

                  Sorry I can't think of anything specific or how to prepare it, but maybe someone else can?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Xaga

                    I was at a party where they made dessert sushi out of crispy candy treats for kids...Here's a couple examples:



                  2. We threw a similar party once and the biggest hits were the comfort foods that we didn't try to make gourmet, but just modernized. The Guests were mostly restaurant industry people with excellent palettes. Sloppy Joes & Crab rather than Tuna casserole in phyllo cups, Andouille corn dogs, sliders made of anything but beef, deep fried Oreos, Grown up Spaghetti Os with Venison meatballs, Begian style frites with flavored mayo dipping options served in cones might also work for you.

                    We did several similar items to what you have in mind. We served our tomato soup in small coffee cups and place the grilled cheese triangle on the saucer for dunking. Smoked Turkey legs rather than chicken and the mac & cheese was served in individual ramekins with a variety of garnishes (lobster, shrimp, tomato, peppers).

                    Decor wise, we used Scrabble tiles/rack on tables to indicate what was in chafing dishes. On Guest tables we had all kinds of toys from the dollar store (e.g. silly putty, yo-yos, bubbles, super balls), they were all taken by guests by mid-party. We also had a soda counter that featured ice cream floats & a penny candy counter with cute bags for people to fill up and take as a favor. We also had a photographer taking prom like pictures, but they sat or posed around a custom motorcycle.

                    Hope your party goes as well as ours did, I still get positive comments four years later!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: oldbaycupcake

                      Love the suggestions for food and decor. I agree that people like modern versions of what they grew up with without a lot of "fuss and stuff". When you held your party - how many people? how much wait staff? did you have someone cook/fry during the party? After cooking for days, I just want to party!

                      1. re: alwayscooking

                        Party was for close to 300 people. Total staff was around 28 that included bartenders (6), soda jerk (1), server/bussers, BOH staff (5) and supervisors. Ended up hiring a caterer after we came up with the concept. Most of the items only needed to be heated or finished off during the party. Fried items were done as needed.

                        We did start with butlered apps and signature cocktails during the cocktail hour. Once the party got into full swing the staff only needed to refill buffets, keep bar stocked and bus tables.

                        To make things easier for you, make sure you have a kitchen person to take care of heating/finishing items and at least one person that is "in charge." Meet with them prior to the event to go over the items and how you want them garnished, so you won't be stuck in the kitchen all night. Sounds like a great party & you shouldn't have to watch it from the kitchen window!

                        1. re: oldbaycupcake

                          Thanks for the quick reply and the information. I'll be sure to let me bro and sis know! (I've sent them the link).

                    2. I totally agree with the balloons also how about bright pokadot table linens Some fun games would be darts or carnival games like bottlle rings etc. You could also use butcher paper on the tables and put boxes of caryons on the tables and let guest do their own art work.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Analisas mom

                        Too late for the party? How about fancy bread (or even white bread?) with PB&J, then cut out with different shaped cookie cutters. I just had a flash back to the 1950s.

                      2. I have hosted this type of party before with great success. Kobe beef tacos are a real crowd-pleaser. For drinks, you might want to try tequila shots with fizzies. Let us know how it goes!

                        1. Jelly! I've made kir royale jelly before (using prosecco or cava and creme de mure or cassis).

                          I think mini versions of comfort food are the way to go. Mini burgers and hot dogs (maybe use cocktail chorizo?) and mini portions of fish and chips in little paper cones. Or roasted new potatoes with a sour cream and chive topping. And cupcakes with chocolate sprinkles, smarties or hundreds and thousands.

                          Sounds like a great party!

                          1. Jello! There's always room for Jello... or, Jello-shots.

                            1. Has anyone mentioned cupcakes?

                              What about decorating with construction paper and streamers? You could make little signs for the food with crayons ...

                              1. I think you need serve to an "adult" Shirley Temple, which would, of course, have alcohol (and a maraschino cherry) in it. Since it's a "grown up" version, you can call it a "Shirley Temple-Black"


                                1 Reply
                                1. A follow-up to my original post. We had the party for 80 people and it was a great success. The menu took 2 days for me to shop and execute (all made from scratch - except the cocktails) and was pretty much as originally posted - I added the homemade tater tots (thanks everyone!) but did not have enough service people for the slushee machine.

                                  - 8 people thought I was pro and asked if I could cater their parties (and got a tad indigent when I refused)
                                  - the chef hired for assembly and service asked me which restaurants I had worked for (I'm a home cook!) and then asked for my recipes and then asked if he could help again at next year's party
                                  - very little was left over!

                                  Thank you everyone for your input! I added the tater tots, loved the Shirley Temple/Black comments, and increased the service staff based on your comments. CH'ers improved my party!