Serving Crowds & Staying on Budget

Holiday season is approaching and that means the hosts and hostesses of the world are planning our holiday gatherings. Whether it’s a Halloween Party, Friendsgiving or Cookie Exchange Party (my personal favorite), it’s time to get your theme together and start planning out the menu. We also know that the holidays usually have us all looking in our pockets to make sure we aren’t spending too much on gifts, gatherings and peppermint lattes.

Here are a few tips and tricks to keep your gatherings within budget:

A Limited & Lavish Bar
If you’ll be serving guest any alcoholic beverages, you don’t need the full bar available. It’s easier on you and your pockets to serve two big batch recipes, typically one being wine focused e.g. sangria and the other being alcohol-focused e.g. Christmas punch.  Men generally drink beer, so make sure to add that to the list. With this sample selection, your shopping list isn’t extensive and all of your bases are covered.

Avoid Sample Sizes
Not only do individual appetizers eat up your prep time, they’ll eat up your budget as well. The best way to serve a crowd is with large, serve yourself portions. Casseroles, meatballs, pinwheels and even some easy to make sliders should be your go-to when it comes to serving crowds. There are so many delicious recipes you can make, so underwhelmed guests will not be a concern.

Beef or Chicken
These two main ingredients are your friend. Once you venture into seafood and pork, your budget will increase. Try to keep your menu centered around these two ingredients. With a little thought, a pack of chicken and ground beef can become 4 different menu options with completely different tastes.

Double Duty Ingredients
The first three tips should keep your budget in control, but if you’re really on a tight budget, you just need to take some time out to plan. Once you have all of your menu ideas, gather them up and take a look at the ingredients. Combine the recipes that have similar ingredients or ingredients that you already have in the house and those are your winners. Buying unnecessary or one-time use ingredients is an expense that can be spent elsewhere.

With extra thought and preparation, you can pull off an amazing gathering with any type of budget. The only ingredients you really need are a handful of friends and a few pinches family and everyone will be full…of love!

Do you have any budget-friendly hosting tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment and let us know!

Hosting a Bridal Shower

Beyond the Essentials Event Blog - Hosting a Bridal ShowerOf all the wedding celebrations, the bridal shower is the one you can get the most creative with. There are lingerie showers, Tupperware showers, honeymoon showers, Jack and Jill/Co-ed showers, brunch showers, slumber parties and of course the most popular, old fashioned, ladies only bridal shower.

1.  Check in with the Bride

Whether it’s a surprise or planned, you should do a check in with the bride to see if she has any strong wants or dislikes. You could have your plan all set for a lingerie party, but the bride has her heart set on a ladies brunch. Before you get too far with your planning, make sure you have a general idea of what the bride would be excited to see. A creativ way to achieve this is by asking impactful questions. One question that can give you a good idea of what the bride cares about is: “If I had an extra $200 to spend on your shower, what element would you like to see it go to? “. This allows you to find out what the bride is really looking for to. It could be an upgraded venue, food and drink, decorations or favors for the guest. You don’t have to invest actual money into that particular element, but it you can invest your effort, knowing the bride will appreciate it. Continue reading

Tis the season for…hot chocolate

If there is one thing I actually enjoy about the winter season, it’s hot chocolate. And popcorn balls. Hot chocolate and popcorn balls. But today, I’d like to explore my love for the many possibilities of hot chocolate.

So often the holidays just pass us by. We say we’re going to invite people over, we say we’re going to have a holiday party and then before you know it, it’s New Years Eve! I have a solution for you!

If you don’t have the time to pull together a cookie exchange party, white elephant party or even an ugly sweater party, consider having a hot chocolate party. It’s actually quite simple since you’re only offering beverages and maybe a few cookies or treats to enjoy. Be sure to invite your guests over after dinner time, as to manage their expectations of a very simple and sweet party. It’s all in the spirit of gathering with friends and family and enjoying the holidays. And hot chocolate.

Grab some mugs, invite your friends over and enjoy some of these delicious hot chocolate recipes with your loved ones.

The Classic Twist: Red Velvet Hot Chocolate 

Continue reading

The Coming and Going of Trends: Birthday Cake Flavor

efdecca019f45eef53acff0f9d3b4e07While we wait for the next new ” cupcake ” trend to take lead, there’s another trend doing a switch. Apparently, people are over the bacon craze and it’s time to get celebratory with birthday cake flavors! Who can blame them, everyone loves to celebrate a birthday and besides gifts, birthday cake is the best part of the celebration!

I am a fan of bacon, but not I never got too far into the trend. Now, birthday cake is something I can definitely get behind, with a spoon or fork preferably. So, in honor of my new birthday year I bring to you my favorite birthday cake flavored items! I hope these are enough to get your mouth watering, excitement going and ready to jump on the birthday cake bandwagon.  Continue reading

My Events: Passing the Torch, an annual fundraiser

I haven’t posted in awhile, but for good reason, I’ve been busy planning my annual fundraiser, Passing the Torch. In its 8th year Passing the Torch continues to honor family owned business. This is my 7th year planning and coordinating this event and while they have all been great, I believe (and have been told) this was the best one yet!

Typically, we honor a mix of women and men, but this year we honored three outstanding women entrepreneurs and decided to make it ” Ladies Night “. Pulling the orange from the past orange, burgundy and yellow color scheme, I decided on an orange, raspberry and hot pink theme with a background of gray (highlighted in the gray drapes and silver chair covers) for this year’s event.

Beyond the Essentials Events Blog - My Events: Passing the Torch

The decor highlight of the evening were the orange Queen of Love chairs we had for our honorees to enjoy throughout the program.  Continue reading

Inspiration Thursdays…Creative Ways to Label Food at a Party

Beyond the Essentials Event Blog - Creative Ways to Label Food at a PartyAs the host of a party, we deserve to have a good time too! But as someone commented on my recent post regarding hiring a bartender, sometimes our enjoyment is boggled down with serving our guests and answering a slew of questions, including, ” what is this? ” and ” what does this have in it?”.

When hosting an event in your home, usually you are familiar with the likes, dislikes and allergies of your guest list. If I have a guest who is allergic to a particular food item, when greeting them I tell them what on the menu was created with them in mind, and what items they should stay away from. There are usually only one or two guests with severe allergies, so it isn’t a major inconvenience on your part.

On the other hand, ” what is this?” will be asked by everyone. Here are a few creative (and fun) ways to label food for your guests. Continue reading