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Sunday, December 11, 2011

#35: Pre-Christmas Part 5: Food for thought

Imagine going to a food-free party? No can do! While you don't have to serve up a feast, here are some tips to entertain in style.

Food Themes

Another way to plan a theme party is to make food the focal point. Food themes are easier to plan and relatively hassle-free.

1. Pick a country: Go Italian (pasta party), Japanese (sushi party) or German (sausage party). You can't go wrong with a theme that's straightforward. To enhance the ambience, play the music of that country during the party.

2. Pick a food: Just choose one of these: pizza, pasta, salad. Imagine how simple it would be just preparing one dish! Tell your guests beforehand so they'd know what to expect for this new take on the 70s salad party.

3. Pick a way of cooking: Barbecue is still a hot fave, but why not a steamboat or fondue party? Parties that get everyone involved in the cooking provide more chances for interaction between your guests.

On a budget?

A large part of your budget is usually allocated to food. Here are a few suggestions to get round that shoe-string budget.

1. Have a pot-luck party: Tell everyone guest to bring their culinary specialty. Not only will you be getting them more involved in the party, you'll be spreading out the cost too. As the host, you should at least provide the drinks, though.

2. Divide the cost: If you're inviting a group of close friends, suggest everyone puts in a certain amount of money, say $10 a head. Then whip up or buy the best feast this pool of money can buy!

3. Serve up finger food: Providing a full meal can be costly. Why not invite guests over just for nibbles? A dip served with daintily cut vegetables looks classy and won't cost you the world. Alternatively, pop into the corner cafe, grab a few servings of cheesecakes and display it professionally.

Indulge yourself

If you've got extra cash to spare, spread the good spirit around!

1. Champaign breakfast: Give the local breakfast restaurant a run for their money. Set up your own breakfast table with croissants, fruit, toast, scrambled eggs, sausages and of course, champagne! Serve orange juice too so your guests can mix their own Mimosas! Here's a suggestion: get your friends to stay over and have them help you prepare breakfast in the morning!

2. Cocktail Night: Ask your friends to bring different spirits to mix and make sure you stock up on fruit, cream and ice. Try borrowing a few blenders from friends so that your guests don't mob you when they have to wait in line for a Screwdriver.

Entertaining impromptu guests

Oh no! Old friends from abroad have come home for the season. What happens if they drop in and you don't even have a packet of biscuits in the house? To avoid being caught in this situation, always keep your kitchen cabinets stocket with:

1. Fresh fruit – whip up a quick fruit platter and serve it with yoghurt and low-fat ice-cream.

2. Healthy Nibbles – raw nuts, dried apricots and guave, sunflower seeds, raisins and low-fat microwavable popcorn are easy-to-grab snacks.

3. Salsa Dip – it has a long shelf life and is ultra tasty when eaten with carrot and celery sticks.

4. Rice or Water crackers – they can be served with whatever else you have in stock in the fridge, such as cheese or hummus.

5. Canned salmon – can be quickly mixed with cottage and ricotta cheese to form a healthy dip or stuffed into bread to make great sandwiches.

6. Fruit toast – keep a few loaves frozen as this can be as scrumptious as a fruit teacake when toasted and topped with melting butter.

7. A few bottles of wine – it will probably be more welcome than food!

How much is enough?

1. For a cocktail party, prepare two to three servings of each kind of hors d'oeuvre per person.

2. Provide at least three drinks per guest.

3. Buy about 4kg of ice for every 10 guests. It's always better to have more ice because people just love chilled drinks.

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