Dinner Planning Tips for Small Gatherings

Small gatherings need not be so modest. If you’re hosting a party to impress a friend or honored guest, then it pays to invest in the details, even if everything is set up as intimate and exclusive. You can always hire a caterer, but why should you outsource meal preparations when you can do everything on your own (and with a skeleton crew of helping hands)? Equipment is easily accessible rented or purchased, and recipes are available online. Your dilemma involves the meal servings, though. Small groups are fickle enough that you’ll have to plan for more than your expected headcount. Of course, this depends on the people on your guest list and the meal varieties you intend to serve.

photo credit: Sanctu via photopin cc

photo credit: Sanctu via photopin cc

Buffets: Convenient but Costly

A buffet may be convenient because you’ll hire fewer wait staff, but you’ll spend more on meals and beverages as trade-off  You’ll have to survey the people included in your guest least before you plan the servings. At the very least, you can hold on to the portioning until everybody’s had their fair share of everything. Pair heavy dishes with vegetables and salads, consider pasta and rice dishes for variety. It’s often a mistake to have an open bar in a buffet, though, especially if your party extends throughout the evening. You can compromise without looking like a cheapskate by serving punch at the buffet table and cocktail drinks after the meal.

photo credit: ulterior epicure via photopin cc

photo credit: ulterior epicure via photopin cc

Proper Dishes should Be Plated

Per-plate meals are more elegant, and you’ll have full control of the servings and dish varieties. It’s always safe to round up on the portioning, since you can’t afford to be out of spare plates for spilled meals and broken tableware. If you’re setting up stations for limited refills, offer more servings of dishes consumed easily. You can afford to serve smaller portions if you’re focusing on variety. People will consume less if they have plenty of options to sample, and you can always spruce up conventional dishes with decadent ingredients to ensure guests are satisfied. Make sure your ingredients arrive fresh, and choose organic. You’re responsible for public health and the favorable outcome of your gathering.

     pie warmer and hot food display

 Equipment and Extras

Catering equipment is available if you’re really planning on a smorgasbord of treats. You can rent or purchase display fridges, ice machines, and warmers to ensure meals are served the way should be. You can check Premier Sales and Rentals here if you’re looking for equipment for your weekend party. Don’t forget to ask your guests to bring something special when they arrive, like a bottle of wine or a box of gourmet chocolates. It’s the least they can offer, tokens of appreciation for a well-planned, exclusive event.


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