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Home Cooking 50

Birthday Party planning - help needed with the menu

The Oracle | May 5, 201504:48 PM

It's an early evening party (4p-8p) - expecting around 30 people (no kids).

I'd like to make everything the week ahead and freeze and then thaw/reheat - leaving as little work as possible for the party weekend. I'm trying to keep things low-cost, and have been intentional at choosing options that give a lot of bang for their buck.

Appetizers:
-Crudites/dip (GHG Spicy Black Bean dip), hummus
-Bonnie's Buffalo Chicken Dip (with chips?) (made the day of; it's a favorite of the b'day boy)
-Cheese/crackers

Mains:
-Pulled Pork w/ bbq sauce (at least 2 shoulders (maybe 3) made the week ahead and frozen), heated/served in crockpot, with bread rolls
-Brisket (picked up from a BBQ place - served in chafing dish) This is the "big splurge" item; I'm a little concerned of it overheating in the chafing dish and drying out - any suggestions are welcome. Also, how many pounds would you get, taking into account the other food?

Sides:
-Martha Stewart's Mac N Cheese (made the week ahead/frozen)
-Cole Slaw or Broccoli slaw - some sort of slaw I could make the dressing ahead of time and then assemble on the day of. Suggestions/recipes welcome.
-Fruit Salad - I think this would be a nice addition, but it's a little more labor than I'd like to do the day before/day of (cutting up fruit = me making a big mess, plus it's more components to purchase). Would cubed watermelon do the trick? I've made a watermelon/feta/mint salad before, but I don't think the feta works with the bbq theme. Thoughts?

Dessert:
-Birthday Cake (likely a purchased ice cream cake - another b'day boy favorite).

Drinks:
-Big batch/make-ahead something? I want to make a big dispenser of something and have it be self-serve. The birthday boy enjoys whiskey and I was thinking of theming the party with a Jack Daniel's motif... but I'd need a tasty big batch whiskey-based drink.
If not, I could do beer and perhaps a whiskey tasting station?? I make a red sangria (done the day before) that goes over well at parties, but not quite sure it will fit the menu.

Thoughts? Ideas?

The other party idea (that isn't completely ruled out) was to hire a taco caterer and serve beer and margaritas... but I couldn't find a solution for margarita serving I found acceptable (short of hiring a bartender).. and I didn't want to be mixing/pouring cocktails all party long. The taco caterer brings all the fixing (rice/beans, etc) - so the prep work would be non-existent (and is very appealing).

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