Party time, and what to lay out to sustain, distract and amuse? Perhaps for a start, lay out bite-sized fruit slices, crispy nuts and the always appreciated cheese platter. Walnuts, apricots, chestnuts and more, even if they are not for Christmas. More healthy choices to nibble whilst holding a conversation - and a drink. Carving knives, napkins, biscuits and plates all add to the presentation (image above).
The choice of drinks depends on the crowd and purpose of event. Are they all twenty somethings, or older blokes thinking of the pub? We either settle for the optimal denominator, or attempt something special. We do not want staff members to break rules of the applicable code of conduct at end of year parties. At the same time, in this day and age, we may not want to be stiff upper lips at informal house gatherings. If we want some people to impress others, that has to be handled sensitively. Maybe Italian bottled mineral water is best, with less health issues. a bit of elegance and more common sense. Are we encouraging the party goers to help themselves, or is there someone to serve and mix the drinks?
Provide one stand-out serving item - with youngsters, sausage rolls from a reputable bakery (image below) ; with Gen X, vodka and seafood platter; with baby boomers, caviar and champagne. That will set the tone, the rest are to grace the table, the occasion and the conversation. We must be conscious not to detract from the purpose of the occasion, whether it is a reunion of family or good mates, a networking possibility or a business function, a birthday or an anniversary.
Allow an exotic element to the menu, not just as variety, but to make guests get out of any comfort zone. Celebrate the story behind the preferred item, be it be an unusual birthday cake, moon cakes from East Asia (image below) or Vegemite from Australia. Allow party goers to get out of their comfort zone in a positve way, when their minds and spirits are already loosened up.