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Help me plan my 40 person party

eviemichael Dec 2, 2011 06:16 AM

Hi Chowhounds! Im getting married in January, and am hosting a party 4 nights before the wedding at my house for immediate family members, wedding party and 20 friends who are traveling to Greece for the event.

I usually love to put lots of blood sweat and tears into hosting, but due to the crazy week it is sure to be- I need to go super low maintenance. I won't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen cooking or cleaning.

My grandmother is going to make slow roasted lamb with rosemary potatoes.
I was thinking of setting up:
-Fresh bread and crackers
-Smoked salmon with lemon and capers-(and a bowl of marscapone for anyone who wants to add it to the salmon and crackers)
-A big cheese plate with both Greek and French cheeses
-An arugala salad with cherry tomatoes, walnuts and honey mustard vinaigrette
-My future mother in law offered to make a huge portion of spanakopita

And my aunts could bring dessert. I also have some chocolate cakes in the freezer that I could easily defrost.

Is this enough? Should I add anything else?

Also- are 25 bottles of wine, 25 bottles of beer and good whiskey a good selection of drinks? Or should I add vodka, rum, or gin?

  1. l
    luciaannek Dec 2, 2011 06:41 AM

    That sounds absolutely lovely.

    I'd maybe also put out some fruit, nuts or olives, but that is strictly optional. You could also put out some spreads, like hummus, bean spread, bruscetta, eggplant caponata, olive tapenade, but again, what you have sounds pretty damn good already. If you wanted to do spreads, I'd think about buying them at a store you trust.

    That sounds like PLENTY of alcohol, unless you're dealing with big partiers. I suppose you know your group better than I, but I'd think about adding some nonalcoholic drinks, like ice tea with lemon or lemonade with fruit in it. I'd also be sure to put out coffee with dessert.

    4 Replies
    1. re: luciaannek
      eviemichael Dec 2, 2011 06:52 AM

      Thanks! Yes, a spread and olives are good ideas. I could make a really quick easy spread the day before from bottled roasted red peppers, feta, and basil. That's always a hit.

      We will put out fruit with the desserts. Omg how do I make coffee for 40 people? I didnt even think of that! (I'm not a coffee drinker).

      1. re: eviemichael
        ErnieD Dec 2, 2011 07:07 AM

        You definitely don't need coffee for 40. Out of that number, a chunk won't drink coffee, and another, probably even bigger chunk, won't drink it in the evening. If you don't have a coffee maker, you can get a cheapo pretty easily. Coffee brews quickly and given that you have a lot of family there someone will likely be more than happy to be in charge of making the coffee since you don't care for it.

        Your menu sounds delicious. To me, that is more than enough to drink (though I second having some non-alcoholic options) but for some reason vodka tends to be a big seller so if you do decide to get something else that might be the way to go. You probably know best what your group will like, though. Maybe some nuts to go with the cheese? Often people like something to pick at and you can leave those out all evening. I love the spreads idea above too.

        1. re: ErnieD
          eviemichael Dec 2, 2011 08:16 AM

          I think my aunt can bring her coffeemaker, so that will help!

          Adding nuts is a good idea, and I think I will add vodka and orange juice...


          1. re: eviemichael
            luciaannek Dec 2, 2011 11:41 AM

            If you think people will drink of a lot of coffee you can make it and reserve it a thermos or a crock pot on low. It changes the flavor a little but it's not a huge deal.

    2. j
      jenhen2 Dec 2, 2011 07:41 AM

      This sounds great. My only comment is you may want to include a sparkling wine or prosecco since it is a celebration related to your wedding!! Also, I would just let your aunt handle dessert and not worry about your frozen cakes. For especially this week in your life, it's best to delegate and be done with it since you have so much on your plate!

      1 Reply
      1. re: jenhen2
        eviemichael Dec 2, 2011 08:17 AM

        Could I replace the white wine with sparkling wine? So that the expenses don't get too out of control?

        I LOVE doing everything myself, I'm a control freak...so delegating is hard...but you're right I know thats what needs to happen. :)


      2. m
        momnivore Dec 2, 2011 08:04 AM

        I think you sound pretty solid. I would definitely add the nuts/olives - just easy to pick at while people mingle. As for alcohol, I think you have too much wine and not enough beer. I would probably do 10-15 bottles of wine and 2 cases of beer plus non-alcoholic drinks and the whiskey if that's something you really like. I don't think liquor is necessary unless you know your family prefers it. Or you can do one "signature" cocktail and just provide the liquor for that. Good luck and congratulations!

        1. t
          thimes Dec 2, 2011 08:27 AM

          I want to go to Greece too ;)

          I would definitely take up your Mother-in-Law's offer for spanakopita!!!! One for "good form" social points but also because 1/2 of your guests will be traveling to Greece for the event and will love having Greek food in Greece.

          I know it is hard when you live in a country to serve "traditional" food from that country for your guests (especially those that also live there) but for those traveling it really does help make the trip feel special and unique. So maybe I'd add a bottle of Ouzo instead of whiskey (though i am an avid bourbon drinker myself).

          Instead of the smoked salmon could you do a more local fish instead? smoked or a spread?

          And take your aunt's up on dessert too!

          I know this sounds stupid but I was at an event where family members made different dishes and the host put out a little card next to each with what it was and who made it (e.g. My Aunt Mary's ________ ask her for the recipe). It was a nice recognition of the family member but also was a bit of a conversation ice breaker when we were talking with her family members during the event.

          Should be wonderful!

          4 Replies
          1. re: thimes
            eviemichael Dec 2, 2011 10:37 AM

            Yes you're right, people probably would appreciate a "taste" of Greece so to speak. :)

            The card thing sounds really sweet actually. Personal touches are always nice.

            The lamb, potatoes, spanakopita, and olives and cheeses will be Greek. I added smoked salmon in there because I love it and will be eating more lightly...(gotta look good in the dress and all!) But I'll consider supplementing something more traditional.

            I actually really dislike ouzo, but maybe I should add it. :) If you were one of my guests, I'd put out some bourbon for you.

            I'll report back to tell you all how it goes. :)

            1. re: eviemichael
              1sweetpea Dec 2, 2011 11:56 AM

              If I may make a suggestion, switch up the basil to a mix of oregano and spearmint for that red pepper and feta dip. It's very fresh and probably suits the Greek theme a bit better.

              I think you can get by with fresh fruits, cheeses, nuts and perhaps some baklava, instead of heavy chocolate cakes and other sweets.

              I'd also suggest an alternative to smoked salmon, capers, mascarpone, etc. It seems a bit out of place and can be pricey for quality salmon. Since your theme is heavy on the Mediterranean items, perhaps a small assortment of Greek meze dips with toasted pita chips and raw crudites would flow better with the rest of the menu. Since you'll be swamped, delegate a friend or family member to procure some from a Greek deli or your fave Greek restaurant.

              I personally am of the belief that you should have too much alcohol, just in case, but a receipt from the store, in case you've way overdone it. Just return unopened bottles for a refund after the party. A few cases of wine and a few of beer will be loads, plus whatever hard liquor your guests might desire.

              1. re: eviemichael
                thimes Dec 2, 2011 02:32 PM

                I'm not a HUGE fan of ouzo either - but come on - being in Greece at a wedding and having everyone yell "Opa" - kind of . . . . romantic for lack of a better word right now, for a tourist.

                Your guests are very lucky!

                1. re: thimes
                  eviemichael Dec 3, 2011 01:45 AM

                  Haha...I suppose I MAY consider adding ouzo...:)

                  If we can all pull this off smoothly for the guests, Im hoping they have a great time. :)

            2. d
              Dcfoodblog Dec 3, 2011 07:06 PM

              Overall a great menu. I agree that the smoked salmon seems a bit out of place but if you like it, go for it. Let your aunts bring dessert but I would suggest having a cut fruit with skewers and a yogurt dipping sauce - just yogurt sweetened with honey and vanilla.

              1. eviemichael Jan 31, 2012 01:22 AM

                Hi Everyone!! I just wanted to report back and also thank you for all of your advice and help! :)

                The party was a hit. My grandma, mom, aunt and uncle totally came through and made so much wonderful food. They were afraid that the lamb would get cold quickly and then dry out...so the menu changed to beef stifado (beef stew), rice, pastitsio, dolmades/stuffed grape leaves, a cheese plate with both French and Greek cheeses, salmon platter, olives, salad with feta dressing...i think thats it...and then some traditional Greek desserts like Karpathian Baklava, kourabiedes, tilixto baklava, etc...

                It was two days before my wedding so I really couldn't eat much out of my nerves but everyone had a really fun time and seemed to LOVE the food.

                I was sad I couldnt contribute to the cooking but there was no way I could have managed it...hey, I bought the cheese and wine! :-)

                Thanks again everyone!!

                6 Replies
                1. re: eviemichael
                  thimes Jan 31, 2012 05:22 AM

                  Opa - congratulations - it sounds wonderful and was fun living vicariously through the post!

                  1. re: thimes
                    eviemichael Jan 31, 2012 07:41 AM

                    Thank you!

                  2. re: eviemichael
                    Jeanne Feb 1, 2012 12:09 AM

                    Congratulations! The menu sounds delicious! And it sounds like a good time was had by all!

                    1. re: Jeanne
                      eviemichael Feb 2, 2012 12:00 AM

                      Thanks! We all had an amazing time. There were warm feelings all around, complimented by wonderful food! What's better than that?

                    2. re: eviemichael
                      Niblet Feb 1, 2012 06:55 AM

                      That salmon platter cracks me up! One of these things is not like the other.... but you like it so good for you (I'd do the same). And congrats! I loved reading about this, what a memorable occasion for all of you.

                      1. re: Niblet
                        eviemichael Feb 2, 2012 12:01 AM

                        What can I say? We all love salmon! :-)

                        It truly was memorable, thank you. :)

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