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Buffet Recipes And Tips For The Imperfect Hostess

May 25, 2008
Hosting a dinner party for friends? Or have you been selected (or singled out, ahh!) to host Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner this year? How exciting. And what a pain in the rear. While having the people you love in your home and feeding them a ton of food is rewarding and can be a lot of fun, chances are you're a little stressed about it. Unless, of course, you're Martha Stewart.

When you're overwhelmed planning a dinner party, sometimes choosing a few good buffet recipes and setting up a simple buffet seems like the easiest thing. And though it's true that, in many ways, a buffet is simpler to do than a sit-down dinner (where you have to prepare each guest his or her own plate), hosting a buffet style dinner is no walk in the park. After all (and especially if your family is as piggy as mine), you'll still have to cook a whole big pile of food, won't you?

Choosing Buffet Recipes: When choosing recipes for a buffet dinner, the first thing you'll want to think about is ease of preparation. When having a lot of people over for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner (or any other holiday celebration), there is always a lot of food involved. Can you easily prepare a particular dish for a large number of people? Do you have room in your oven or on your stove to cook all of your dishes at once?

Another thing to think about when choosing buffet recipes is how much time each dish will take to prepare. When you host a dinner party, there are about 100 things on your to-do list the day of the party or holiday... and about 100 other things that you never even thought of. The best way to cut down on your work load a bit?

Pick recipes that you can make ahead of time. If 80% of the cooking is done in the morning before your dinner party, you can be sure that things will be a lot easier when the guests arrive. Some great dinner party recipes that you can make up ahead of time are:

1. Cold vegetable salads and pasta salads
2. Soups and stews (add any rice or pasta at the last minute)
3. Veggies and dips
4. Cold appetizers
5. Reheat-able sauces
6. Breads, biscuits, etc.
7. Sliced cheese and fruit trays
8. More stuff I can't think of now

Last, you'll want to think about how easy a particular dish is to eat. Especially if you're going to have some guests on their feet or perched on chairs, you'll want foods that they can eat without too much cutting or hacking. Unless you want them to eat a whole steak in their hands like some kind of carnivorous squirrel (which would be entertaining but unhygienic), skip preparing a large piece of meat.

Buffet Table Setting Tips: Got your buffet recipes figured out? Now it's time to get the table ready. While it seems like setting up a buffet table should be as simple as tossing things together, there are a few things you can do to make you buffet table both look nicer and be easier to use. One is to vary the height of different dishes.

This makes the table look more appealing visually and makes it easier for guests to access a particular dish. Another important buffet table setting tip is to... avoid being boring! Most people have been to about 1000 buffets in their lifetime, and most of them are ordinary and all the same.

But with some creative decorating ideas and a little flair for the unusual, you can create a beautiful and unforgettable buffet table. Good luck!
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