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Cooking for a Large Crowd

Hosting a meal for a big group of family or friends is a fun way to celebrate the summer days and create great memories together, but the task can seem very overwhelming, especially if you have a large number of people coming. Do not be discouraged—with a little planning you can host a party for a large crowd without losing your sanity! Here are some tips to get you started towards this goal:

~ Invitations

When you send out invitations for your party, make sure to ask people to let you know whether or not they will be able to come. That way you can estimate with fair accuracy how much food you will need. Consider what the age group of the attendees will be: are you having more adults or more children? Children, if they are very young, will often not eat as much as an adult, especially at a party where they are too excited to eat. Take this into account when you are planning your meal. It is always better to have some food left over than to run out before everyone has eaten!

~ Main Dish

When you are hosting a large crowd for a meal, it is probably not the time to decide to make a gourmet recipe that takes three hours to produce two servings. Multiply that times thirty people, and you will be in the kitchen for a very long time and too exhausted to even care when your guests arrive! Pick an entrée to serve that is tasty, yet is easy to prepare. Grilling works well for a large party, and so do recipes that you can cook in the crock-pot, such as barbecue chicken or pork. Spend some time flipping through your cookbooks for the right menu and ask friends what they have served at their large gatherings.

~ Side Dishes

If you are cooking for a crowd, you will want to have some side dishes to complement your entrée. Again, consider only recipes that you can make quickly and easily in large quantities. Also try to find side dishes that you could possibly make the day before your party to save time. Things such as rolls, baked beans, potato salad, macaroni salad, potato chips, and desserts can all be made ahead of time to save you stress and time on the day of the party.

~ Drinks

Whatever drinks you decide to serve, make sure to have plenty of them. This is especially true if your meal or party is going to be outside with kids running around getting hot and thirsty. Consider filling large tubs with ice and placing a variety of different kinds of drinks in the cold tubs for guests to grab when they get thirsty. If your event is more formal, set up small tables outside with glasses, ice, and pitchers of whatever drinks you want to serve.

~ Planning

Make a list of all the recipes you plan to cook, how long each one takes, and how it is to be cooked (oven, grill, etc.). Having this list will help you plan when to make each item that must be cooked on the day of the party. It is a terrible feeling to realize that you have an hour before the guests arrive and two things left to cook but no room in the oven. Plan ahead to avoid these types of issues, even down to writing down what time each thing needs to go in the oven or on the grill.

Cooking for a large crowd can be a great deal of fun, so try some of these tips to pull off your next big event. Also keep in mind that most of the time people come to see you and each other, not for the food. So relax and enjoy being together, and this will go a long way towards helping your guests have a great time!