By Tresa Erickson

Feature Writer

The holiday season has arrived, and the to-do lists are stacking up. You?ve got decorating to do, gifts to buy and parties to plan. Better get a move on fast. Here are some factors to consider to help you plan the perfect party menu every time.

What?

What kind of party are you having? A dinner party? A fondue party? A cocktail party? A formal dinner party for 12 will require a larger menu than a fondue or cocktail party for 15. You will need a full-course meal for the dinner party, whereas you may opt for a few hors-d’oeuvre trays for the fondue or cocktail party.

Why?

Why are you having the party? To gather everyone together to celebrate the holidays? To celebrate the holidays and an anniversary, birthday or some other special event? The more elaborate the occasion, the more elaborate the menu may need to be. A combo holiday-promotion celebration, for example, might call for a cake and champagne in addition to several hors-d’oeuvres.

Who?

Whom are you inviting to the party? Everyone you know? A select few? The more people you invite, the wider the menu selection should be to cater to a number of tastes. If you are inviting just a few friends, you should know their likes and dislikes and be able to cater your menu to that. Make sure you take any special dietary needs of your guests into accommodation. If someone is a vegetarian, diabetic or has food allergies, for example, you will want to account for that in the menu.

When?

When are you having the party? Late morning? Mid-afternoon? Early evening? The time will dictate the type and amount of food you serve. A late morning party might call for a full brunch buffet, whereas a mid-afternoon tea party might call for a few pots of tea and a sheetcake.

Where?

Where are you having the party? At home? Somewhere else? Home parties may require you to plan the menu, whereas a party elsewhere might limit the menu planning or eliminate it altogether. If you are having a get-together at the local bowling alley, for example, you might be able to order several pizzas for everyone to munch on and leave it at that.

How?

How will the menu be prepared? Will you be doing all of the work yourself or bringing in someone to do it for you? Depending upon where the party is located, you may be able to save yourself some time and effort by having the food catered. It may cost you more, but it may permit you to have a bigger spread.

You may serve whatever you want at your holiday party. Just make sure you take the factors above into consideration and your menu suits the tone of the party. While cookies and milk might satisfy a bunch of kids at a holiday party late in the afternoon, it won’t work for a table of adults looking forward to a late night holiday dinner.


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