“Planning to Feed a Crowd: Seven Easy Steps,” Ensign, Dec. 1997, 59–60
Feeding a crowd this holiday season? Whether it’s a sit-down ward dinner for 300 or a punch and cookies family party, you can plan for it by following the same basic steps:
Know your budget. Determine available funds. Allocate the funds among food, decorations, publicity, and, if needed, rent for a facility.
Decide on the location. Visit the location before the event and draw a site plan. Decide where food should be served and decorations placed. Check to see if there is a source of water for cleanup. Arrange for a key if necessary. Will signs be needed to direct people to the event?
Estimate attendance. For most groups, about half of those invited show up. For an exact count, check with invited guests beforehand.
Plan the menu. Choose foods that fit your budget. Determine quantities. When you calculate amounts of food, provide larger amounts of popular items. During hot weather, plan for more cold drinks than usual. Shop to determine who will offer the best prices on large quantities of food; some places offer discount or bulk prices to church or service organizations.
Recruit help. For best results, form a committee and appoint a chairman. Be clear about each person’s area of responsibility. Some assignments might include decorations and table settings, publicity, food purchase and preparation, serving and cleanup help, and program planning.
Publicize the event. Use invitations, flyers, posters, personal contact, bulletins, newsletters, or announcements. Remember to include a map or give directions if the place is not well known. If verbal announcements are to be made, give information in writing to the person conducting the meeting. Include the day and date, time, and place of the event and name of a person to call for more information.
Design the decorations. Choose a theme to help coordinate decorations with publicity and invitations. Sometimes food can be used to decorate, such as a pineapple cut for display or used as a base for toothpicks holding other edibles. Table settings, whether formal or informal, can also serve as part of the decorations. Decide whether to use paper, plastic, or china dishes and what type of utensils to use.
With planning and organization, you’ll feel less frantic and enjoy the event more.—Janet M. Grambo, Indianapolis, Indiana