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Help! I'm having a party for 40!

I 'have never had a party this big, and I am daunted by the quantities of food needed. I plan to feature a spiralcut ham, with biscuits and condiments (mayo, different mustards, pickle assortment), broccoli salad (from Sweet Tomatoes), and cake. I am OK getting the quantities of these and the drinks. What else do I need? I am thinking of an entree for those who do not eat/like ham, maybe a chicken and pasta salad? If I do that, can I decrease the amt of ham? Do I need a green salad? I will be passing some hors d'ouevres such as gougeres and stuffed mushrooms. The party runs from 4 pm Sunday afternoon. Any advice is most welcome.

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  1. The people who eat the ham will also eat the chicken and pasta salad. Just so you know.

    I don't know the broccoli salad from sweet tomatoes, but that sounds good.

    I'd do a fruit and cheese platter or three with crackers and breads. Serve nuts and olives.

    1. Maybe a vegetarian pasta salad as a side dish - that will cover vegetarians, and be good for non-vegetarians as well.

      1. Don't forget the "signature cocktail"

        1. No, don't reduce the amount of ham; the more choices you have, the more people will want to try everything if they eat what you're offering. Is it your intent that everything (other than the mushrooms) be cold?

          I do think you need other dishes because you are having the party pretty much during what will be considered dinner time so people will be hungry. I would offer a different meat in addition to ham like a lemon chicken salad (sticking with the cold dish theme) and some side dishes.

          Pasta salad is a good idea but I would make it with vegetables such as frozen & thawed peas, shredded carrot, red onions, seeded & diced cucumbers, zucchini & yellow squash, scallions, halved cherry tomatoes, etc tossed with a vinaigrette. You can also do a layered chopped salad with these same veggies and lettuce of choice.

          I would do potato salad and or sweet potato salad which goes well with ham & biscuits. It's soup weather so adding a chowder or bean soup would be nice and it's easy.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Cherylptw

            unless the party is sit down, i would not serve soup.
            standing trying to eat a bowl of soup is difficult, especially if you are also juggling a plate of other foods.

            1. re: westsidegal

              Smooth soups in mugs can work for a standing party.

              1. re: melpy

                But who has mugs for 40 people? Just messy / extra trash if using insulated paper cups to sip from.

                1. re: melpy

                  Rent what you need. You can return it unwashed.

                  1. re: sr44

                    $60 for mug rental? Spend the money on food and skip the soup.

            2. not an answer to your question, but iirc, the sweet tomatoes broccoli salad also contains pork.

              how about some vegetarian beans (either chili or baked beans) so that if a vegetarian, shows up there will be something for them to eat?

              11 Replies
              1. re: westsidegal

                Thank you. I looked up the recipe and see that the broccoli salad does indeed contain bacon.

                I will be serving a cheese and fruit platter. Forgot to mention it.

                I like the idea of doing a vegetarian pasta salad. But should I do that AND potato salad, or one or the other?

                I do want everything to be room temperature, so no soup or other hot dish, except for the gougeres and mushrooms -I'lll have enough to do!

                1. re: lattelover

                  you can leave out the bacon in broccoli salad. (this is the raw salad with a sweet-sour mayo based dressing? and raisins and nuts?)

                  1. re: alkapal

                    I would nix the meat in the broccoli salad- feel like pork overload

                  2. re: lattelover

                    Not that I think soup is an especially good idea but soup can be made ahead and kept warm or even heated in a crock pot. Very hands off for the day of. Minimum work. Carrot or squash seem to fit best with your menu.

                    1. re: lattelover

                      Yes, I would serve both potato salad and veggie pasta salad because it will give your guests some choices and from your post, you only have a broccoli salad decided on as a side and it has bacon. With 40 people to feed, I doubt it will go to waste.

                      1. re: lattelover

                        Here's a broccoli salad that is vegetarian and delicious - had it first when a friend made it for a cookout. While it does add another starch - it is very light.

                        Wild Rice, Broccoli & Cranberry Salad

                        1 (6-ounce) pkg long grain & wild rice mix
                        1 cup sweetened dried cranberries (I used Ocean Spray Craisins-1 pkg)
                        1 cup fresh broccoli flowerets, chopped
                        4 green onions, chopped
                        3 celery ribs, thinly sliced
                        1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimento, drained
                        1/2 cup sweet and sour dressing (1/2 cup orange juice & 2 tablespoons white vinegar)
                        1 cup dry roasted peanuts

                        • Prepare rice according to package directions; cool.
                        • Combine rice, cranberries, and next 4 ingredients; add dressing, and stir gently. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Stir in peanuts just before serving.

                        I've doubled it for a covered dish meal at work - worked fine.

                        1. re: Jeanne

                          no oil or mayo?
                          hmmmm…. sounds good

                          1. re: alkapal

                            No oil or mayo alkapal - when I cook the rice I always put 1 T of butter in it - but that's it. It is very good - I first had it when my friend brought it to a summer cook-out at my sister's place.

                            It is really good - give it a try!

                            1. re: Jeanne

                              i love wild rice, so i think i will give this a try.

                              i still recall a smoked turkey and wild rice salad with cranberries that whole foods made in its deli YEARS ago. it had a mayo-y dressing, but it was so delicious. wish i had the recipe!

                          2. re: Jeanne

                            I, as well as many other people, try to stay gluten free. The broccoli salad recipe was sounding perfect until the dressing. White vinegar is not good for gluten free. A simple substitution of cider vinegar for the white and the recipe would still be yummy and now safe to eat.

                          3. re: lattelover

                            Vichyssoise (potato leek soup) can be served at room temperature, if your only objection to soup is that it would need to be kept warm . And it is drinkable from a mug.