As we move towards the festive season, it’s time to start thinking about parties. It may be the annual work Christmas party, a New Years Eve bash, or even the end of the year business gathering – but when the old year comes to its inevitable close we all start thinking about celebrating.
Of course, no party is complete without refreshments. That goes without saying. But these days it’s increasingly hard to come up with party menus that can truly satisfy all of your guests. It’s actually gotten fairly complicated.
In the first place, people have become much more health conscious, with the end result being that many of your guests this year will be watching what they eat. It’s not a case of dieting so much, as your guests may be looking for vegetarian or vegan options.
There’s also an increasingly large number of people suffering from allergies and food intolerances these days, and as a good host you want to think about there needs as well. All in all, it can making planning a party menu difficult.
Still, as a good host you want all of your guests to enjoy themselves, so it’s worth taking a little time to understand these dietary restriction so you can steps to accommodate them with your party menu.
More and more Americans are choosing a vegetarian lifestyle. For most, this means totally avoiding meat (there are some “vegetarians” who make exceptions for certain types of seafood, but that’s an argument for another time).
Vegetarian options on party menus have become fairly common by now, and it is always good form to have a couple of dishes designed to accommodate the non-meat eaters in your midst.
Of course, that means more than simply having a few vegetable and fruit platters dotted about the room. You need to work with your caterer to create exciting, festive, and nutritious vegetarian alternatives.
Consider these examples when adding a vegetarian option to your menu:
- Cheese Souffles
- Roasted Squash Salad
- Stilton and Fig Salad with Honey-Thyme Dressing
- Spinach, Cheese, and Onion Torte
- Curried Parsnip Mash
Unlike vegetarians, vegans forgo all animal food products, and this can be harder to cater to in a mixed menu. Vegan options must not only avoid any meat products, they must also be free of milk, cheese and eggs. It’s a tall order if you aren’t familiar with the vegan lifestyle.
An experienced caterer should be able to create sumptuous dishes to satisfy any guest, but if you are need of some suggestions we can get you started on the right culinary footing.
- Potato Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms
- Carrot Ginger Soup
- Broccoli and Cauliflower Bisque
- Savory Stuffed Squash
- Autumn Harvest Casserole
- Braised Rainbow Chard
- Apple Bavarian Torte
Gluten Free Options
Gluten free diets are becoming increasingly prominent, Unfortunately, since gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, it is a component in most common menu items.
Now, some people have a relatively moderate intolerance for gluten, something akin to an allergic reaction. But, people suffering from Celiacs Disease can have a violent reaction when exposed to gluten in their diet, and they must be particularly careful what they eat.
Finding suitable gluten free options for your party menu is not easy, and you may find that your caterer will balk at the idea. But ultimately, you want all of your guests to find something on the menu that they can fully enjoy.
Here are few menu ideas to run by your catering staff. As you’ll see, entrees are not to difficult to manage, but side dishes can be challenging.
- Five Spice Scallops
- Polenta Wedges with Tapenade
- Roasted Turkey
- Prime Rib
- Spinach, Gruyere and Walnut Salad
- Roasted Vegetable Cheddar Quiche
- Gold Potato Frittata
- Pumpkin Scones
Food Allergies and Intolerances
When it comes to food allergies and intolerances, it is more difficult to make distinct menu alterations. Here, it is best to rely on your guests own management of their particularly dietary restrictions.
That being said, there are some steps you can take to ensure that no one has an adverse reaction to one of the dishes on your menu. Most people know what they are allergic to, and will avoid those foods. However, it is up to you and your catering staff to ensure that all menu items are prepared properly, and that there are no instances of cross contamination.
For example, some people are violently allergic to shell fish, consequently kitchen staff should be careful to prepare any seafood at separate work stations to the rest of the menu. Again, some of your guests may have an alcohol intolerance, so it might be wise to specify any menu items that contain alcohol or use it in the cooking process.
Again, your guests with food intolerances should know what to avoid, but you can make things easier for them by making sure your caterer runs a tight kitchen.
Your event should be fun for all of your guests, and everyone should be able to find something on your menu that will not only appeal to their taste buds but will also satisfy their health concerns. At first, preparing a party menu that caterers to a wider range of dietary restrictions may seem daunting, but it actually gives you and your caterer an opportunity to be more creative and to deliver a wider range of tasty treats to all of your guests.
When you begin planning your next party menu, make it wholly inclusive, and be sure to include dishes that will satisfy all of your guests regardless of the eating habits.