Menu Planning for your Holiday Party

The holiday season is upon us! Chances are, your calendar is filling up for the rest of the year with holiday soirees, work parties, neighborhood gatherings, and more. I love having events to look forward to, and I absolutely love hosting! I moved into my home in August and in three months have hosted a housewarming party, football watch party, dinner party, meal prep workshop, and a few game and wine nights.


One of my favorite parts about hosting is planning and making the menu. Catering can become extremely expensive. I used to cater, and have a few tricks and tips to share to help you host confidently this holiday season. There’s nothing worse than feeling unprepared or rushing out during your party for forgotten items. (TIP: If you’d still like help hosting, some caterers will allow you to rent just the server/bartender to help pour drinks, replenish food, tidy up trash, etc.)

The timing of your party plays a huge role in how much to feed your guests. For example, an event from 7-10 p.m. could involve lighter appetizers or more desserts as your guests have probably already eaten a light dinner. An event from 4-6 should incorporate heavy appetizers, such as sliders, beef wellingtons, or stuffed mushrooms.

-Plan a diverse menu. Many people have allergies, preferences, or diets they are following. Make sure to have a few vegetarian options, gluten free options, and a healthier option too.
-Menu Cards. Make sure you make or print menu cards next to your spread. Not only does it add to the décor and theme you are going for, it helps guests know quickly if they are able to enjoy the item based on the description.

Menu Planning:
As a general rule, plan on a menu of at least 6 different items. This ensures variety and something for everyone.
For appetizers by the dozen, plan on each guest eating 2 pieces. 3 if it’s shrimp. No one ever grabs just one shrimp.
For platters such as fruit, cheese, or charcuterie, plan on 3-4 ounces per person.

Here are some of my go-to favorites that I served at my housewarming party:
Spicy Sausage stuffed Mushrooms
Cheese and Charcuterie Board
Shrimp Cocktail
New York Style Cheesecake Bites
Fruit Platter (also great as a mini skewer option or with a yogurt or honey dipping sauce!)
Beef Tenderloin Canapes (half with balsamic glaze, half with horseradish)
Veggie Platter with Hummus and Dill Dip (TIP: dips look artfully displayed in a pepper.)
Sante Fe Scones
Dips: Red Pepper Feta, Spinach Dip, etc. (TIP: pair with chips, veggies, or crostinis)
Caprese Skewers with Balsamic Glaze (TIP: sprinkle with sea salt.)
want recipes on any of these? please leave a comment!

Miscellaneous Items:
-Buy the right size plates. If hosting an appetizer party, make sure you purchase appetizer sized plates. No need for huge dinner plates! If you are having 20 guests, purchase 40 plates. Many guests may go up for seconds! Same goes for napkins.
-Make sure you have lots of ice on hand for drinks, or chilling under food (shrimp cocktail).

Sticking with just beer and wine makes planning, hosting, and the glassware needed much easier.
As a general rule, plan on 1 drink per guest per hour. However, this will depend on your group. For my friend group, I would plan on 2-3 per hour. (bunch of animals.)
You can get 5 glasses of wine out of a standard bottle.
You can get 6 glasses of champagne out of a standard bottle.
24 bottles come to one standard case of beer.

For a group of 20 guests for 3 hours, I would plan the following:
20 (guests) x 3 (hours) = 60 (drinks minimum)
TIP: Plan on half wine and half beer, with 2 options of red wine and 2 options of white wine.
(30 beer minimum) To be safe, go with 2 cases. One lighter option and one craft option.
(30 wine minimum= 5 bottles) To be safe, go with 3 bottles white and 3 bottles red.
I prefer 2 Chardonnay and 1 Riesling and 2 Cabernet and 1 Malbec or Pinot Noir.

I’d love to hear your tips for hosting or your plans for this holiday season!
Have any specific questions on hosting, planning, or hostess gifts?
I’d love to help!

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