Over the years, I've adapted my approach to entertaining and feeding a crowd. There was a time that I planned elaborate menus built only on made from scratch dishes. I wanted to wow and please the people who were so gracious to attend our frequent soirees. Admittingly though, I would find myself exhausted from all the cooking and clean up long before the party even began, which made for a rather dull hostess. Today, my entertaining style is far more laid back and I find I'm able to partake in all the fun intended in the first place.
As evidence that you don't have to spend hours in the kitchen to create a pretty presentation, I wanted to share the informal 'build your own' spread laid out for an impromptu game night we recently hosted at our home.
The idea was to present options for our guests to build out their own crostinis and plates. We encouraged pairings by building out several different variations beside the various ingredients where guests could take queue and create their own version. Foregoing elaborate platters, I pulled from our pile of boards, mixing and matching wood, slate and marble to create a large display atop our kitchen island.
Colorful micro-greens served as garnish along the edges of each board, creating a cohesive presentation.
We baked off the crostini ahead of party time and used them as filler. Though we pulled together a couple of homemade toppings and dips, many of the options at the buffet were our favorites selected right off the grocery store shelf, taken out of the carton and placed in dish ware for serving.
No need to set up an extra table with cloths. We always find our guests congregating around the kitchen counter, regardless of an elaborate buffet set up. So we went with it and covered the entire island with our food boards. Candles and mini pumpkins helped pull the look together and make it festive.
As an additional tip, we did not put all of the ingredients purchased out at once. Though we bought several pounds of meat to have at the ready, we displayed smaller amounts that could be easily backfilled if needed, eliminating wasteful proportions that would typically sit out untouched during our party. In the end, we had more than we needed, but were able to use refrigerated leftovers for other meals throughout the weekend instead of tossing food into the garbage.