As a profession, I don’t think I could handle being a chef or caterer. However, I enjoy planning and preparing get-togethers when the opportunity comes.
A few days ago we drove about 45 minutes north of Columbus to a campground to help my in-laws celebrate their 40th anniversary. My mother-in-law and I planned the basic menu on Wednesday before heading to the store for groceries. We filled a station wagon and drove up to Peniel on Thursday morning. The men were happy to drive to Walmart to get anything we were missing (as well as a few extras: 3 lb box of chocolates discounted after Christmas…) after we had unloaded and seen what we had to work with in the camp kitchen.
For breakfasts we took 3 boxes of cereal, 3 boxes of muffin mix, a box of Bisquick, a jar each of peanut butter, jelly, and honey, a dozen English muffins, and 3 dozen eggs.
Soup, sandwiches, salad, chips and cheese puffs were planned for lunches.
Ham & cheesey au gratin potatoes for one dinner and spaghetti with meat sauce for another.
Bananas, apples and ez-peel clementines were good to have on hand.
The beverage menu included milk, juices (the kids surprised us by preferring the cranberry over orange), apple cider, coffee and hot cocoa.
Friends were invited to join the family for a reception Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, they weren’t asked to RSVP, so we had only a vague idea of how many to expect. When my sister-in-law, her husband, son and I hopped into their truck and drove through the slightly hilly Ohio countryside to find a Sam’s club, we decided to plan on 50 guests.
Ontario, Ohio has all the stores and restaurants you could ask for. We only took time to stop at 4 of them ( disc sleds were on our list for the kids’ entertainment as well as food for the party). When the internet instructions didn’t direct us to the physical location of Sam’s club, we got good old fashioned advice from a human being at Lowe’s.
After stopping for a sample of fudge near the front door, we headed to the bakery section to choose a cake. Next, we started to look for party trays of croissant sandwiches. The sample ladies gave us plates of treats, but discouraged us with the idea that this store probably didn’t carry the exact thing we were looking for. They were right, so we had to think what would be a good substitute. At first, we considered putting together our own croissant tray, but eventually agreed to buy boxes of frozen treats: meatballs, pigs-in-a-blanket, mini egg rolls and tortilla spirals.
The layout was pretty simple. We raided the kitchen storerooms for nicer plates and trays.
Scarfs given the day before as Christmas gifts to the ladies in the family served as table cloths.
The grandchildren contributed homemade chocolate chip cookies and a gingerbread house.
The turnout? Fewer than what we would have liked, but sufficient. The holiday date and rural location, as well as a substantial snowfall didn’t make it easy for friends to come. It did give the guests more time for personal conversation with the hosts.
Leftovers? Of course. But nothing much that couldn’t be used for the following day’s menu.