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suggestions for a funeral reception

I'm going to a funeral for a friend this coming weekend and will be preparing food for the reception afterwards. I'm thinking finger food or a salad might be the best thing to bring. Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas? Thanks.

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  1. Finger food is a good idea.... various sandwich makings on a platter... cold cuts, cheeses. Then a platter or basket of rolls, condiments, pickles/sliced tomatoes/lettuce. Several cold salads....macaroni/potato. Then there's that old Southern dish: Funeral Grits. In my neck of the woods lasagna is a staple for such gatherings as is eggplant parm. You'll need to include plates, utensils, glasses and napkins.

    1. I'd recommend something easy to make but good for a large amount of people - baked ziti, eggplant parmesan, meatballs, and salad. There's something very comforting in warm pasta. I'm sorry for your loss and hope this helps.

      1. A lot depends on circumstances and the wishes of the family. Will you be supervising the preparation of a large meal and wish to make a contribution? Or will you be transporting food to be put out while you attend the funeral service? Does this family have specific religious or cultural preferences?

        A generic response says that finger food is a very good idea. The less anyone needs to fuss at this time, the better. A platter of assorted cookies, slices of pound cake and some dried fruit & nuts would be appropriate and easy to transport and serve.
        My condolences.

        1. a ham, scalloped potatoes or corn casserole. also good buns. broccoli casserole is good. tortellini salad. the sandwiches are fine, too.
          baked pasta dishes are good as they keep well in the oven, and are still good at room temp.

          1. Condolences for the loss of your friend. I am sure this is not an easy time and your offer to provide food is very generous.

            Do you have an idea of how many people will be attending? Will this be at someone’s home or a hall? Not knowing your friend's cultural background, you might consider tea sandwiches filled with something easy like ham, cheese, chicken salad, etc. A salad would be nice or a crudité platter, and maybe a selection of fruit, like strawberries and grapes.

            When my mom passed away, my Filipino relatives brought tons of food to share with everyone after the rosary. The funeral service was the following day and I hosted a luncheon at a nearby restaurant for about 100 people. At my aunt’s funeral, my cousin had the luncheon catered by a local Chinese restaurant.

            My stepfather’s family is Japanese. Following the services for my grandparents and uncles who have passed away over the years, friends and family brought sushi, teriyaki chicken, pickled mustard greens, tamale casserole, macaroni salad and an assortment of cookies, brownies, manjū.

            1. I would stick to the finger foods and skip the casseroles. Lots of people don't eat casseroles, but most do eat sandwiches, chips and pickles. Maybe some dip for the chips and a platter of vegetables with a dip. Another thing to consider is that this is a friend and you want to be at the funeral, not in a kitchen warming up a dish or two. So I would keep it as simple as possible and you have my condolences. It is very nice of you to be preparing food.

              1. Perhaps some of the individual's favorite (healthy?!) foods?

                1. have you ever made "24 hour salad"? It's pretty well-received...If there will be people of various ages, a platter of chicken nuggets from Chik-Fil-A would work well...Also, possibly something could be frozen and then reheated by the family at a later date......my condolences on the loss of your friend.

                  1. I actually have rather vivid memories of the food served at wakes and funerals throughout my life: sandwich spread finger sandwiches, siopao (char siu bao), empanadas, hopia and small pastries seem to top the list. Chips of various sorts were always available, but the main sustenance was always something easy to hold and that kept well at room temperature, so no burgers or casseroles, though I have heard out west Mormon Funeral Potatoes are popular.

                    1. Spiral-sliced ham always seems to go over well. Serve it cold with some buns and condiments (mustard, mayo, butter) and people can it them as sandwiches or as separate items. Add vegetables with dip or a vegetable salad, cookies or bars. It does depend on where you are and what the background of the friends and family are.

                      1. Need details, anyone else bringing food, how many, time of day, full meal or just food after. Lots of variables, sorry.

                        1. I suggest you do what you are good at and what you are known for. Considering your handle dim sum comes to mind, especially dim sum dumplings.

                          I would not avoid heartier fare, though. I am sure finger foods will be abundant as everyone, including the family thinks of that.

                          Some years ago when my father died and I had to travel hundreds of miles for the funeral, my sister came up with what I think was a rather good idea. She needed a great deal of food as my father was highly popular in this village of 2,000 people and one could count on a huge turnout. She zeroed in on the woman considered the best cook in town and hired her to make her specialty in huge proportions. The specialty was chicken and biscuits all made from scratch It is the only food I remember from the funeral and I do remember it fondly.

                          This is just to say, don't discount hearty comfort food cooked in quantity. The finger food will be there regardless and will be popular at the gathering after the funeral. The thing to think about is after the gathering, when the family is grieving and no one feels like cooking and have had their limit of finger food. A good supply of of hearty comfort food, made with love and easily reheated, will make that contribution the most remembered and beloved. That is my experience, anyway.

                          1. I usually cook a turkey (in Reynolds cooking bagt) the day before and refrigerate overnight.
                            I slice it cold (slices beautifully) and present it ~~ white meat/dark meat on platter

                            garnish platter with olives and lemon slices

                            never have leftovers

                            1. Thank you all for your condolences and your kind replies. As some of you surmised, dim sum is my specialty and that would be easy as finger food. I don't know how many people are coming. I'm imagining that there will be a lot as the friend is in his twenties and his parents are in their early fifties.

                              Some of you asked about cultural issues. I'm Chinese married to a Japanese guy and so I know the customs from those two cultures well. The deceased and his family are not Asian so that was my quandary-- whether to take Asian finger foods or a casserole dish or what?

                              Other friends of the family have arranged a meal schedule so I will be taking food to the family in the following weeks. I imagine that they are so deeply saddened and overwhelmed at their loss that they won't have much appetite for food. I feel so helpless for them that this is my small gesture that may help in a small way.

                              Thanks for your ideas for the reception and if you have additional ones for the meals to follow, I would love to have them as well. You chowhounds always come through for me!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: dimsumgirl

                                Go with dim sum dumplings then and plenty of them. I have never met anyone regardless of culture who did not fall in love with them right away.

                                1. re: Greyghost

                                  I would make some dim sum since you know so much about that and make great ones. But I would also think about what would be comfort food for the family and guests involved. Boring sandwiches with potato salad might be the most comforting for a group that is looking for the familiar at this moment.

                                2. re: dimsumgirl

                                  In light of what you just wrote, I think for meals afterward - which indeed will be most welcome - a simple chicken soup with bread or rice will be soothing and restorative. It's a very sad time for all especially since he was so young.
                                  My deepest sympathies.

                                3. what region of the country are the parents from? california?
                                  if it were the south, a baked ham would always be brought.
                                  often, there will be a lot of kfc fried chicken...

                                  and they'd load up the carbs/comfort food: mac n' cheese, tater salad, etc.

                                  a relish tray with a dip, too. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/569828
                                  agree with gio, soup may be good for the days after the funeral -- not that day.
                                  you can't go wrong with cold cuts. of course, make your dim sum, too. (but isn't that typically served hot?


                                  dimsum, do you have a friend who could help you out with prep and on that funeral day -- maybe already be at the house working on setting up stuff?

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: alkapal

                                    yes, we live in california, norcal, actually; friends of rhe fam; good suggestions; dim sum can be served room temp but other stuff too; so nice of you to reply; the family is not asian; more very americanized other ethnic (but you woudn't know but very americanized). appreciate your cultural sensitivites. love you chowhounds!

                                    1. re: dimsumgirl

                                      Let us know how it went. And take care of yourself too.

                                  2. First off, you have my condolences.....

                                    I've made this suggestion before...for repast meals, I've had catered affairs and cooked myself. On a day that is never easy, complicating a menu is not recommended. Through a mishap once, where the caterer failed to show up with the food at a family friend, in a pinch we arranged for the local Popeye's Fried Chicken to prepare 100 pieces of chicken. They did so in less than an hour and it was very well received by the guest attending. Even though there were other items ranging from pasta, salad cold cuts and sandwiches.......the only thing that was completely finished was the fried chicken......and what more comfort food than fried chicken.

                                    For less than a dollar a piece, it's a great no fuss no muss option.

                                    3 Replies
                                      1. re: fourunder

                                        Also good is a couple platters of chicken wings. Funny out of 4 recent funerals there was fried chicken or chicken wings. Maybe it's a Texas thing. Or maybe it's just very convenient.

                                        1. re: danhole

                                          fried chick is good hot or room temp.