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Jun 22, 2009 11:29 AM

Party Panic!!!

In my infinite wisdom, I decided to have a BBQ the day after we get back from vacation. (O.K. my husband was supposed to throw it for me because it's my birthday celebration, but that's a whole different rant) Seeing that we will be gone the week befor the party, return Friday morning, party Saturday, I am in a food panic. Does not have to be anything fancy, just easy, quick, and relatively cost effective. So far we have 27 adults and 21 kids, but due to the lack of manners in responding, could have up to 25 or so more.
I am thinking basic bbq food- burgers, hot dogs, big pot of turkey chili (especially for the hot dogs) which could be done in a crockpot, salads, fruit, some type of veggies, but what else? Also if you have any recipes for above items, or othetrs, please feel free to contibute.
Don't let me down chowhounders, I can't go on vacation in a birthday party panic!!!

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  1. Okay, so I totally get you on the husband rant - but that's for another time also LOL.

    I personally don't think you can pull it off. Why not make it a "bring a dish instead of a present" birthday party? How hard would it be for each guest to bring one thing (salad or entree or nibblies or dessert)? Just make sure you assign people a "course" so you don't get 27 desserts (not that I personally would complain, YUM, but others might have an issue with that, and I'm not even invited - but I digress).

    The thought of organizing, shopping for and cooking for a bbq on the flip side of a vacation is a little outrageous.

    3 Replies
    1. re: maisonbistro

      Ohh, I would love a birthday party with 27 desserts, and you could totally come and help me eat them!

      1. re: maisonbistro

        One quick thought - does chili freeze well? Maybe focus on things that could be made ahead of time? I love the Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies and they freeze well (as does the dough). I'm guessing that one could put together hamburger patties and buy hotdogs ahead of time and freeze, along with the condiments (not to freeze, of course)? Maybe purchase cut fruit for fruit salad? Enlist some friends?

        (Side note - my sister's husband "threw" a 40th birthday BBQ party for her for 200 guests, but she was really the one behind it, and guess who ended up doing most of the work. ;-) )

        Edit - if you don't have room in your freezer, maybe you could borrow space from friends/neighbors?

        1. re: MMRuth

          Chili does freeze well. Personally, if this was my party, I would do burgers, hot dogs, chili and salads. For starters, I'd do corn chips and salsa (buy) and veggie crudites with a dip.

          I would make the burger patties and chili in advance, before I went on vacation, and freeze them. When I got back from vacation, I'd take them out to defrost, and go to the market and buy hot dogs, buns and salad fixings.

          I'd make a fruit salad (something along the lines of the one linked below for Summer Fruit Salad with Mint Sugar), a caprese salad (tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar), and some kind of starchy salad, like potato salad or rice salad. I really like the recipe linked below for curried rice salad. You could do the rice or potato salad on Friday afternoon after marketing, and then on the day of the party, all you'd have to make would be the fruit salad and the caprese salad, and prep the toppings for the burgers.

          Fruit Salad Recipe:

          Curried Rice Salad Recipe:

      2. You don't mention what kinds of salads. There's a good, easy potato salad recipe in Tami Benton's "Pure & Simple". Uses cashews in the dressing. It's gluten-free and vegan, in case you have anyone with special dietary needs attending (likely to have at least one in that size crowd). Went to a family gathering yesterday. Salads included a potato salad, a green bean/tomato/onion salad, beet salad, Shepherd's salad, and spinach/strawberry salad. A portion of each of those with non-vegan dressing was taken out before the dressing was added. There are some quick, easy quinoa salads.

        I made the (quick, easy) gingerbread recipe from "Vegan Lunchbox" after converting it to GF and it went over quite well. They also served fresh strawberries along with other desserts.

        TJs sells hemp tortilla chips which are great and a possible conversation starter. If you have any veg*ans attending Sunshine Burgers are great and also gluten-free but would need to be done on a clean grill (or nuked) to keep them vegan.

        1. I don't think there's anything to panic about. It's going to be great. I agree on the menu, and would add a fruit salad and a macaroni or potato salad and corn on the cob. When you get back Friday morning, run to the store (make your grocery list on the trip home). By 1pm, you'll have the macaroni or potatoes boiling. Make the salad. Then get the chili going in the crock pot. Saturday morning, shape the burgers and pull together the fixins. Chop the fruit and then light the grill - no problem! For dessert, perhaps ice cream cones or a sundae bar? Or a big, easy pan of brownies. I don't think a bbq has to be too over the top, and I think a day is plenty of time to prepare for a casual get together. Those folks who won't RSVP, though.... That's a whole nother story!

          1 Reply
          1. re: jenhen2

            how about making a big tray of ina garten's brownies and freezing them before you leave. they're quite rich and keep well--also, one recipe makes a boatload of brownies.

            maybe treat yourself to some pre-formed burger patties. consider getting some treats from a nice deli--the potato or pasta salad, maybe

            i think the party is quite doable. i know how hard it is not to cook all from scratch when serving as a host, but this might be a time to make some judicious purchases to make sure you enjoy yourself--even though i'll bet you could do all the work yourself.

          2. 40-50 grown ups + kids??? I'm thinking you should indulge in a lot of prepared foods sold in bulk. Got a Costco membership? It may not meet your usual party hosting standards, but under the circumstances I think shortcuts are in order. Maybe supermarket potatoe salad isn't as good as yours, but really, is it that much better? That important? Focus on the signature dishes that you want to make and fill in the rest.

            Do you have 2-3 close friends that can help out? If you could delegate some of the shopping it might help you get right into the food prep and cooking. Do you have a grill that can handle a party of 50? Or can you get friends to bring theirs? Rent a bigger grill? Got someone to mow the lawn? Think of the prep steps that can be delegated and delegate like crazy -- and be sure to designate a stand-in party planner who can coordinate and make sure anyone else helping doesn't get stuck or stumped. You don't want to spend the last few days of your vacation on the cell trying to troubleshoot the party.

            1. Sounds like trip to Costco to me too. Last time I was there they had some fresh, not frozen, patties for the grill. There was a spicy chicken concoction and a really nice looking veggie burger plus some good multigrain 'everything' burger buns instead of the usual mushy white bread buns.. The potato salad was awful but their bakery turns out some nice birthday cakes. You are having a birthday cake, right!
              I like meatballs at cookouts- big messy Italian ones. You could make them before you go and freeze them in a homemade sauce. I would ask friends to bring a side dish and hope for the best. Maybe you could drop hints, like deviled eggs would be good.