Party Menu Planning

4 years ago

So this past weekend we had a little party at our house. We had some celebrating to do – just a couple days into the new year my husband was named the new head football coach in our little town! So we wanted to get all our old friends and our new coaching folks together to hang out and have a little fun.

I started my party menu planning by asking The Coach what kind of food he wanted, and then rounded out the menu from there. He, of course, picked some very manly tailgate-type choices. So I had to choose some lighter fare to add in.  Here are a few things I considered when planning the party menu:

  • Since I was serving just appetizers at the party, I followed this rule: if fewer than 12 guests, plan on 2-3 appetizer choices; if you have 12-20 attending, then plan on 4-5 appetizers; and for over 20 on the guest list, provide 6 or more choices. 
  • I estimated how much food I needed by following the rule of thumb that people will eat 5-6 pieces of food per person per hour.
  • Since I was serving drinks, I offered a few heavier appetizers to balance out the alcohol.
  • I selected a sampling of dishes from each of the following categories: dips or spreads, meats and cheeses, sweets, and fruits or veggies. I also tried to provide a balance between heavy and light choices.

Below are some of our favorite party foods that we served this past weekend. In addition to these, we had a sampling of mini cheescakes, cream puffs, and fudge for some sweet treats. Also, if you are looking for more party menu planning ideas, make sure to check out my Party Food board on Pinterest. If you’re not already following me on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you can find some behind-the-scenes extras in those spots, too!

Favorite Party Dishes

  • Buffalo Chicken Dip. This is The Coach’s favorite. I’ve seen it posted in a zillion places, so I have no idea where to credit the original recipe to. But it is as easy as you can get to make. Simply dump the following in the crockpot: 2 cans chicken, two blocks cream cheese, 2 cups cheddar cheese, 1 cup Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing sauce, 1 cup Ranch dressing. Heat until everything gets warm and melty, then give it a good stir. Continue heating on low until everything is melted and mixes well. Serve with tortilla chips. You can make this more or less spicy by adjusting how much Frank’s you use. Buffalo Chicken Dip
  • Jalapeno Popper Dip. Another party request from The Coach, which my sister was kind enough to offer to bring. I gave him a hard time about picking two spicy dips, but there was no changing his mind! This is another popular Pinterest recipe and I’ve seen a couple different versions – here is one of my favorites that’s great if you’re serving right away, and here’s another that is much easier to take to a party or as a dish to pass.
  • Lil Smokies. Since I thought we might have party leftovers, I wanted something my kids would eat, too! These are a crowd pleaser for both kiddos and big people. And super simple to make. Again, not much of a recipe – more of a crockpot dump. I use 3-4 packages of Lil Smokies. Dump them in the crockpot. Then add a bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce – I like a sweet one with these. Add a cup of brown sugar, and a tablespoon or so of Worchester sauce. Mix everything together well and heat in the crockpot on low for 2-3 hours before serving. You can see other simple versions of making these little guys herehere, and hereLil Smokies
  • Antipasto plate. I wanted to make something a little different than just your plain old veggie tray, so I went with an antipasto platter. A general rule of thumb on this is to use one or two Italian meats, a cheese or two, and then the rest is veggies. I used salami and pepperoni for the meats, and just used fresh mozzarella pearls as I had another cheese plate, as well. Then I added black olives and green olives, pickled asparagus, roasted red peppers, and dill pickles. The pickles are not a traditional antipasto platter item, but I have a kiddo who loves them so I threw them in there. You could also add marinated mushrooms (I didn’t as I had stuffed mushrooms for another app), other peppers, and other types of olives. I think my youngest ate his weight in olives and pickles, while my oldest snuck probably most of the salami and pepperoni off the plate when I wasn’t looking.Antipasto Plate 
  • Cheese platter. This is always a classic and you can make it as low key or as fancy as you want. I had a friend help me out and bring this and she included sliced cheddar, pepper jack, and Swiss, and a large wheel of brie in the middle. This was definitely a hit, with not much of anything left!
  • Stuffed Mushrooms. My sister-in-law brought these and they were completely gone by about half way through the party! I think no matter how many you make, you will run out as these are a huge hit. You can find a recipe similar to hers here, on my Pinterest board of party foods.
  • Herbed Dill Crackers. I placed a bowl of these in the living room so there were some snacks out there, as well. The Coach’s mom brought them, and I will often make these when I host cards at my house. You can find the recipe hereHerbed Dill Crackers
  • Chips and Salsa or Cowboy Caviar. I always love to have a good salsa out as everyone seems to like it and I feel like it’s at least somewhat healthy. I also sometimes will make what we call “cowboy caviar” as I like a chunky salsa filled with fresh ingredients. You can find the recipe I use here.

On to my menu! Just more cold weather meals for this week. I’m beginning to think we’re at the start of another ice age. Cold, cold temps here in the midwest this week. Using up some freezer meals this week, then starting on stocking it again with a big batch of chili this weekend!  I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! I also often link up at Feeding Big. Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Breakfasts (we don’t plan for each day – see here for why – but these are our choices along with a fruit)

• Cereal
• Granola bars and yogurt
• Pancakes
• Cream of Wheat or oatmeal
• Toast or English Muffins
• Breakfast sliders
• Banana smoothies
• Breakfast bites 

Lunches (see this post for Peanut Free lunch ideas!)

• Roo: Monday – No school – lunch at home; Tuesday – Lunchable; Wednesday – School lunch; Thursday – Lunchable; Friday – Lunchable
• Monkey: Monday – No school – lunch at home; Tuesday – Lunchable; Wednesday – School lunch; Thursday – Lunchable; Friday – Lunchable
• Me: Monday – Leftovers; Tuesday – Leftovers; Wednesday – Leftovers; Thursday – Sandwich; Friday – Leftovers


• Monday – Spaghetti, garlic bread, salad
• Tuesday – BBQ Pulled Pork over Baked Potatoes, carrots
• Wednesday – Soup and sandwiches
• Thursday – Homemade Mac & Cheese, sausage, mixed veggies
• Friday – Pizza
• Saturday – Leftover buffet
• Sunday – Chili, cornbread

What are you eating this week? Leave a comment and feel free to link back to your blog if you have your plan posted!

Like the recipe or feature this week? Please consider sending it to a friend, sharing it on Facebook or Twitter, or pinning it to Pinterest. Thanks so much! 

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