Cooking For A Crowd
Recipes for Quantity Cooking

Food and Party Planning Ideas
Don't Make Hosting a Graduation Party Like a Final Exam

An easy graduation buffet is the perfect way for the parents to enjoy the celebration along with the guests. It's a time of new beginnings for the graduates but also an opportunity to honor all the people who have shared in their accomplishments. And what better way to gather them together than an open house?

Work Ahead. Preparing the food a couple of days ahead helps reduce a last-minute rush and confusion.

Serve simple, but inviting foods. Foods don’t have to require a lot of time to look like a work of art or be tasty and inviting.

A buffet set-up is easiest if the graduation party is in an open-house format. Serve a menu to match the theme of the party if you are using a specific theme, or serve traditional teen favorites such as a taco bar or built-to-order nachos, mini pizzas or burgers and hot dogs. Great staples for a buffet style finger food meal include chicken wings, meatballs, salads, veggies and dip, and an assortment of fresh fruits with dip.

Remember that you will much rather have leftovers than a sparse spread at your buffet line, but here is a guide for you when you are estimating your food quantities for your buffet.

For individual meats, fish, poultry:
• 5 - 6 ounces per person
• If the cuts of meat have bones in them, consider adding more weight per person.

For multiple meat meals and buffets:
• 4 - 6 ounces per person

For pasta dishes:
• A pound will serve 4 - 6 people.

For vegetables:
• With a premixed salad, estimate one handful per person.
• One head of lettuce will feed approximately 5 people, 4 medium heads will serve 15-20.

For appetizers:
• Estimate about 8 items total per person.
• Make 3-4 of each item per person, keeping in mind that everyone may not take all of the items.

For desserts:
• Calculate one full portion of dessert per person.
• For multiple desserts, people will taste smaller portions of each item.

Use disposable tableware, a good quality paper plate and disposable plastic glasses. For a touch of "diplomacy," roll white buffet napkins (paper or cloth) around flatware and hold them together with small tassels or ribbons.

To keep salads cold you can use either small ";kiddie" pools filled with ice or buy several "bus tubs" from your local restaurant store. You'll find they will take less ice to keep salads cold and can easily be stored and used again.

You can get inexpensive chafing dishes now to keep hot food hot that can be thrown out after the party with aluminum inserts. The holders can be reused multiple times and can be found for under $10.00. Don't forget to buy the sterno!

Make small trays of cold meats, appetizers and keep a backup ready. It looks better to replace the whole tray than to keep adding to the one on the table. The same goes for salads. Don't leave any food setting out for over 2 hours. If it does, toss it, no one wants sick guests!

Make everything ahead of time, and store hot items in a warming tray, or in an oven set at 200 degrees.

Desserts can be a graduation cake that you make or order from the bakery. You can also do a dessert table which is always fabulous and people love them. Set up the table away from the buffet line and place desserts out after people have gone thru the buffet.

If you are setting tables up and decorating them, don't forget to buy a few disposable cameras to set on the tables. Encourage people to use them with a small handwritten note attached to or under the camera. It is also fun to set up a spot for picture taking with the graduate. Decorate an area in school colors or to match your party theme if you have one. Have some scrapbooking paper available for everyone to leave a special memory or best wishes to the graduate with. You can make a scrapbook for the graduate later.

Here's the hardest tip of all, relax and enjoy the day, after all you've earned it also.....

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