Request: party planning checklist

Dear ones — does anyone have a shopping and check list for planning a reception — say for fifty adults — that you would be willing to share with me?

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. Will see what I have of my old event stuff.

    My favorite pseuo-classy appetizer is tortellini, whole mushrooms and cherry tomatoes skewered on a satay skewer and marinated in italian dressing.

    Lettuce wraps filled with peanut sauce, water chestnuts, etc are also good. Put a sign up that they contain peanuts.

    IMHO, you can’t go wrong with a carved-out watermelon full of cut fruit and/or cheese.

    I also like hollowed out cherry tomatoes full of tuna salad. (But make sure to label it non-veggie.)

    Chocolate fountains are still very big, though my favorite dessert is an artful arrangement of graham crackers, marshmellows and chocolate bars surrouding a flaming can of sterno with bamboo satay skewers so people can make Smores. A little messy, but people love that and it makes quite the centerpeice.

    Of course, a cake decorated with your organization’s name or something is the classic. Costco’s cakes are quite good and mucho cheap.

    And that all is assuming a summer reception. If you need fall recipies, email me.

  2. Ditto on the tortellini skewers. They give good color and are easy to do.

    Other ideas:
    * curry chicken salad in baked wonton cups
    * salami/pesto cream cheese wedges

    Themes are good and make it easy to plan. Like a “50’s cocktails” party or “tea party” (for the latter: tea-based cocktails and then typical tea party foods — cucumber sandwiches and such)

  3. While I know you’re an absolute expert at getting the most for the least, I need a budget ballpark in order to make anything resembling a useful suggestion.

    * Tasteful cheese platter
    * Marinated mushrooms
    * Caprese salad on a stick (mini mozzarella, basil, and cherry tomatoes)
    * Shrimp cocktail is ridiculously in around here again; don’t know if it’s as big in DC
    * Asparagus wrapped with a little love knot of prosciutto
    * A twist on salsa — something like a summer cucumber and melon salsa can be very refreshing

  4. One more — I think the yummy ginger roulade at my wedding was simply a flatbread like lavash, spread with a cream cheese, a layer of pickled ginger, rolled and carefully sliced. It’s a little unusual but still very approachable.

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