Do you like to entertain?
We LOVE having friends over for some wine, dinner and a hearty, hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity.
Though sometimes, you don’t feel like making a big dinner, and that’s when grazing on a variety of foods sounds like a better idea. And there’s no right or wrong time of the year for this, either, because you can easily adapt your food variety with seasonal items.
Recently, we had some good friends over, and they have a one-year-old daughter. This is a PERFECT idea for toddlers because everything is out in the open, and there’s a big variety of healthy items for them to eat. Even though mom brought lots of snacks, this sweetheart couldn’t get enough!
The first time I did this, it took me a long time to put it together, and I think that’s true for anything, especially the first time, right? When you try a new recipe, it’s time-consuming because you’re not sure what to expect, and it can be difficult to judge how long everything takes. But then you make it a second time, and you usually know what takes the longest, and therefore, what to start first.
In my case, it was cutting things up ahead of time, and building the platters in a few minutes.
Here’s a picture of some of what I included:
We had three different kinds of cheeses: mozzarella, marble, and gouda. Kielbasa, prosciutto, and salami. Two kinds of crackers, plus breadsticks. A baguette (to go with the awesome Buffalo chicken dip – I’m sharing the recipe here). Oranges, grapes, and cantaloupe. Pickles, olives, and Extreme Bean (hot and spicy pickled green beans). Peanuts and of course, chocolate.
The important thing to remember about building a party platter is that it’s all about presentation. Adding pretty dishes to your platters add interest, and they’re practical too because you can keep juicy fruits or pickles away from crackers to minimize sogginess.
I also used toothpicks to help with serving. I cut the kielbasa into chunks, and stuck toothpicks in them. I did the same for the cantaloupe too! It just makes it less messy and a little more fancy.
I like to add plastic margarita or martini glasses to the platter, along with small glass bowls. I also added paper doilies to each platter, to make it pretty.
I cut up all the cheese and fruits ahead of time and put them into containers for later. I also made the Buffalo chicken dip ahead of time and put it into the fridge. Bottled and canned goods are super quick to use for your party platter and can be used more than once because of the large variety of foods you’ll have.
How to decide what to serve on your platter:
Your first step is to think seasonally. A week before I served this, strawberries were on for $1.88 a container. The week I shopped for these ingredients, they were $3.49. This is why you don’t see strawberries in the final platters. So I went with what was in season and what was on for a good price. There will always be some type of fruit on sale, so never fear. One day, it might be cantaloupe, the next week, it could be pineapple. It doesn’t matter!
The final key step is to have a variety of colour. There is a lot of orange in my platters and I blame the strawberry situation for that. However, you want a variety of colours to make your platters look interesting and appealing. If I really wanted to, I could have cut up some tomatoes and serves them instead.
The other stuff:
The goal is to have a little bit of everything. Some fruits, some veggies, some cheeses, some meats, and some bread or crackers. In the past, to brighten up my platters, I’ve also stuffed in some spinach leaves, just to add some greenery to everything. I’d say it fills in the space too, but you really won’t need any help with that.
I also threw in some pickled eggs. I’ve loved pickled eggs every since I was little – my dad got me hooked on them. And every time I have them, my husband tells me to stay away from him because they smell (not bad, in my opinion, but like pickled eggs!). Anyway, doesn’t he try one this time and love them? I’m so not impressed. And then our oldest son wanted to try one. WOW! Back off! Nothing is sacred anymore!
Putting it all together:
This is actually quite fun! You definitely don’t want a clump of cheese here, and a pile of crackers there on your platter. Your goal is to add texture, colour and interest to the platters, so have three neat stacks of cheese. Fan the crackers so they look inviting. Roll each slice of meat and have small stacks in different areas on the platter. Also consider colours when arranging your items. Put a white cheese next to strawberries, and then put salami next to those. Variety is key, in items and colours.
If you’ve done your prep work, it really won’t take you long to put the platters together. Within fifteen minutes, my husband and I were done and we were sipping wine with our guests in no time.
Our guests’ daughter was bound and determined to try the hot green beans, and after trying to distract her several times, we all decided to just let her learn her lesson. Yup… one small bite in and she was passing it to mommy, with a bit of a sour and surprised facial expression! She never tried that again!
Have you made party platters for entertaining guests? What kinds of things do you like to include?