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catering questions

I am having a party for 30-35 people. It's a party to celebrate my 24 yr old son who's moving. So many of the guests will be his age, mixed in with a few family and friends.
I plan to do the apps myself, mostly easy stuff like fruit, cheese & crackers, fresh guacamole, and buffalo chicken tenders.
But I can't see myself doing much more than that due to time and a recent sprained ankle. So here's my question.
If I get the food catered locally and pick it up how should I keep it warm, and how should I serve it? They'll put it in those aluminum trays and some people will put those right out on the table. I don't think I need steaming trays, and possibly the broccoli chicken penne would transfer to a nice serving dish, but the lobster mac n cheese probably would not. Can I serve the lobster mac n cheese in the aluminum tray they give it to me in, or would that look really tacky?
Any other suggestions for making this easier on myself?

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  1. If your occasion is casual, it's not tacky to keep the food in aluminum trays; if you want it to be more upscale, remove food to other serving dishes..it's as simple as that.

    So, you're planning to serve cold pasta and chicken tenders since you're not using steaming trays or chafers?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cherylptw

      No cold pasta, I'll either keep warm in low oven, or try the chafing idea. Same for buffalo wings

    2. I'd serve it out of the aluminum trays but that's me :) You could keep food warm in a low oven or transfer it to warmed platters or crockpots. To make things easier, you could do what my mom always did and hire a neighbor kid to help serve and clean up (and pick up the food if they can drive). I want to say she usually paid about $50 for the day and always felt like she got her money's worth. And the kid was happy!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Hobbert

        Great ideas. Might have to see if can find teenager who drives, cleans and serves. Might be tough in this age of social media ;)

        1. re: molly4669

          If you have a local culinary institute, or a junior college/vocational program that deals w/ the culinary arts, that would be a great place to start looking. Instructors very often know their students' situations and are happy to recommend side-jobs.

      2. I never thought aluminum trays at a party were tacky, it is what it is. :)

        Have a few nice centerpieces (simple flowers in vases or something seasoned themed) and a nice tablecloth for the trays to rest on (with trivets, etc. of course!) and enjoy the time with your son and all the stories you will hear his friends tell.

        Can't wait to read about the party afterwards!

        1 Reply
        1. re: thedryer

          Thanks love your reply. Can't wait to hear friend stories

        2. I would call and ask the caterers if they would be able to use your own dishes- a local restaurant we had would let you drop off casserole dishes or a dutch oven and then pick up the dishes full! Made heating and serving both easy and prettier....

          1. Nothing wrong with serving it straight out of the catering trays... it's not tacky, it's what's commonly expected for a group party because few people have enough 'nice' serving dishes for any large quantity of food.