Commentary: Deciding on the Type of Party – Part 2

So you’ve thought it over and a brunch won’t work for you, so now you have to decide just what type of party you will have. The timing of the party will probably be key for that decision, with expense consideration following closely behind it.

Weeknight Open House

If you decide to have a weeknight open house (non-Friday)… probably minimal hor’dourves and baked goods and sweets would be the perfect choice.

People normally working during the day will have eaten lunch at their normal time and probably will have eaten their supper at their normal time as well, so serving tons of food would be pointless.

While this option may have certain timing difficulties… if you work, you would have to prepare after work…. it does offer probably the least expensive alternative. In terms of food… cheese and fruit… veggies, crackers and dip…. Some light canapés and possibly a few hot hor’dourves should cover the food… with cookie platters and bar cookies covering the sweets.

Beverages would also be less expensive… soft drinks and coffee or tea would probably be the most often asked for beverage since it would be a work night. If you are serving alcoholic beverages… the amount of alcohol consumed would probably considerably be less than a Friday or Saturday night party…… or you could easily limit it to a choice of a couple of wines or even a light punch. Egg Nog is another traditional beverage that could be included.

The weeknight option… depending on the time you invite your guests to arrive… could also be limited to just serving coffee and tea with an array of sweets. Having your guests arrive after the normal supper hours, say 7 or 7:30, can also be more convenient for both you and your guests and offer a still more economical solution.

The Friday Night Open House or Party

While Friday nights are a week night per se … they are really in a category of their own. Guests tend to stay later on a Friday or Saturday night, but the biggest difference between a Friday night party and another weeknight party will be how late your guests may stay. The longer the party, the more food and beverages tend to be consumed.

If you are serving alcohol and you know your guests will stay later… remember to have plenty of substantial food to eat… by substantial… I would include hot hor’dourves, canapés, maybe a chafing dish food, such as meatballs (recipe to follow) and I would limit the amount of chips you serve…. Salty foods just encourage more beverages of any type.

The Saturday Night Party

This type of party/open house is open to just about anything… the types of foods and quantities are really limitless…

I, personally, think the time you invite your guests to arrive and how your invitation describes your party determines what is appropriate. If call your party an “Open House” it leaves the impression people can “stop in” or come and go…. That in itself tells the guest that they aren’t expected to stay the entire night from beginning of the party to the end. Also "Open House" invitations often state a "To" and "From" time which also alleviates any doubt about what your intention is.

The word party implies this is the evening’s event and the hope is they will come and stay for the entirety.

You could also in the invitation ask them to “join us for coffee and goodies to celebrate the holidays”… that leaves no room for doubt that you will be serving desserts… which is also a very pleasant option.

If you invite guest to arrive from late afternoon to 7… you are implying there will be substantial food since the arrival time is roughly supper time.

Substantial doesn’t mean it has to be an all out meal… but it should include a considerable amount of food which can include a hot option… Baked Ziti, Italian Meatballs, Beef Stroganoff, Swedish Meatballs, Chicken Marsala, hot hor’dourves such as chicken fingers, pizza bites, buffalo wings (to name a few options), or small sandwiches.

When choosing a main hot food item be sure to consider dietary habits of your guests… you make want to be sure to include a non-meat choice.

If you want a Friday or Saturday night party but don’t want it to go too late…. You can subtly control that by removing the hor’dourves or entre food and beverages and replace the food with desserts and start serving coffee and tea. The guests will get the idea the party is in its final stages.

Sunday Afternoon and Night Open House Parties

Really the same thoughts apply when considering a Sunday open house or party. I would just advise you to think carefully about the arrival time and what you call your party in the invitation when considering what to serve.

Think about yourself as a guest receiving an invitation… would you know by what is on the invitation what to expect for food. Remember the guests have to know whether or not to eat a meal before coming to your party.

We will be including all sorts of recipes and tips for you to consider when planning these parties.

I have purposely left off the actual holiday celebrations… these, I think, fall into a category all their own. I will include tips and recipe suggestions in separate posts.

So there is a lot to think about… decide on the timing and start your party planning.

Party planning can be so much fun. I absolutely love to entertain and I truly enjoy each type of party..

I hope you have as much fun as I do and I hope I can help make it easier for you to throw a party your guests will remember.

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