My mother's birthday is Wednesday, and I'll be driving up that day from DC to CT. I hope to have the afternoon to help my father prepare, but can't rely on having too much time in case of traffic. We'll be doing dinner for 8, and my dad is in charge of meat to grill. They're quite unadventurous eaters and there is already another side dish coming, though I don't know what it is.
I have a cooler, but it's so huge, I would rather not bring it.
So, what brilliant appetizer and side dish ideas could possibly make the trip? I can assemble there, but don't want to lug raw shrimp, for example.
I fully recognize this may be impossible, but it's always worth seeing what chowhounds come up with.