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!

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 

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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

Splurge…Hire a Bartender

Beyond the Essentials Event Blog - Hire a BartenderA few years ago, I hosted a Signature Cocktail Party at my home. I invited all of my friends to bring their favorite cocktail recipe and serve it up over food and conversation. It was a great time, and I want to host it again, but I think next time, we’ll have someone else do all the work. While I am typically all about saving the budget, sometimes you need to splurge a little. The next time you are hosting an upscale event in your home, treat your guests and yourself by hiring a bartender.

Hiring a bartender will allow you to enjoy your party guests and take a break from tending the bar. Bartenders can also serve as great entertainment. An experienced and passionate mixologist will be shaking and pouring up delicious drinks for everyone. Work with them to create an exciting, colorful and tasty cocktail menu for everyone to enjoy.

Think about having your guests create the menu themselves as well. Create an extravagant bar full of fruit and herbs for your guests to mix and match and create their own signature cocktail.

You don’t have to break the bank on a bartender, recently licensed bartenders are eager to get real experience and will be willing to do so for a low cost.

The next time you’re hosting an upscale bridal shower, housewarming or even a holiday party in your home, consider hiring a bartender to serve you at your own party!

Inspiration Thursdays – Wine Theme Edition

Beyond the Essentials Event Blog Wine Themed Event Inspiration

I’ve been brainstorming ideas for a wine themed event that I think would be perfect for a girl’s night in, birthday party or a romantic dinner party for couples. For this Inspiration Thursday post, I’ve decided to share a few of my ideas.

I hope to fully implement these ideas into a great event, but until then…be inspired!

 

 

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