I covered drinks (of the alcoholic variety) on Tuesday, so on to the food!
Candles and wood for the fireplace if you have one, in case of a power outage
Quickly accessible cleaning supplies for spills
Napkins, forks, knives, spoons, plates
Keep it simple. Fancy is not necessary! Avoid foods that will distract you from hosting and mingling--i.e., foods that need to be served hot from the oven. If you must have hot food, invest in a crock pot. Do foods that can be made the day before. And remember: these days, with our crowd, it actually isn’t tacky to suggest that invitees bring something to share.
Do have at least one interesting or fun appetizer, like cupcakes, caramel apples or bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with bleu cheese.
With a larger party like this one, and especially when guests are being encouraged to bring others with them, you don’t want to get caught short on food. Keep a reserve of hors d’oeuvres in the freezer, and keep extra crackers and jarred spreads of various kinds (hummus, tapenade, fig spread) that can be pulled out if need be at the last minute.
Simple Sample Menu.
*Chips (2 bags) and salsa/sour cream dip/guacamole or six layer dip (in a 9x13 baking dish, spread a layer of refried beans, a layer of guacamole--preferably homemade, a layer of a pint of sour cream mixed with chili powder and diced chilies (optional), and top with shredded mozzarella, diced tomatoes and sliced black olives)
*Cupcakes (at least a dozen)
*Cheeses and rosemary flat bread/baguette/water crackers. Select three cheeses: a blue cheese or Stilton with fig spread or marmalade; a soft cheese like brie or triple cream; and an innocuous cheese for the less adventuresome, like Fontina, Gouda or Havarti
*Vegetables, cut up (broccoli, bell pepper, baby carrots, etc.)
*Fresh berries or apples with caramel dipping sauce, or melon wrapped in prosciutto--whatever fruit is in season
If you feel the need to provide more savory items, try cold cuts with condiments and buns, or a fancy salami with crackers, or deviled eggs--everyone likes a deviled egg.
Up on Tuesday: Dos and donts of party throwing.