Buffet Food Party Planning — Use Bulk Foods for a Fabulous, Affordable, and Easy Party

Buffet Food Party Planning — Use Bulk Foods for a Fabulous, Affordable, and Easy Party

With produce, meats, flowers, and spirits under one roof, bulk-store markets make food party planning for last-minute holiday party planning a cinch!

Shopping at warehouse stores like Costco, Sam’s, and BJs make holiday party planning easy, affordable, and fun. Buy a few yummy foods in larger quantities. Plan for about 8-12 different items. Grab some beautiful blooms from the floral display, and a case of good wine from the liquor section and you are on your way to a real celebration! This can be a great strategy whether you have lots of time to plan your party or if it’s a spur of the moment gathering.

This kind of food party planning is great for large groups in particular. A buffet party for 70 people doesn’t have to be a chore if you break it down into groups and make an allowance for at least four trips to the table for the men and three for the ladies.  The object is to have plenty for all these trips, and bulk food stores are a blessing for buffet food party planning.

What to Buy?

Look for variety in ingredients, food textures, hot and cold items, and flavors. You don’t want to have a table full of dips or have every food item have dill or eggs in it.
A good “formula” for a buffet is 1-2 seafood items, 1-2 meats, one meat or seafood salad, a cheese and cracker assortment – one soft cheese, one hard cheese, and one blue cheese, one fruit – whole or cut goes will with the cheese assortment, one dip or spread with crackers, one dip with chips, one dip with cold crudités, bread that goes with the meat and meat or seafood salad, devilled eggs, 2-3 heat and serve type puff canapés, and an assortment of sweets – cookies, mini-brownies, candy, and dried fruit.
Choose your items so about ½ are hot foods and ½ are cold foods.
Choose items that don’t require more than bake and serve for the greatest ease.
If you plan to make some of the items yourself, choose recipes with few ingredients – hot dips, grilled lamb chops, mini sausages in a sauce, meatballs in a special sauce, chicken tenders marinated and skewered can all be simple items to prepare.
Just be sure you buy enough. Plan an average of 12-14 canapés or “bites” per guest if your buffet party is taking the place of dinner.

Dress Up Your Buffet and Make it Look Inviting

Make the presentation of the food special – don’t use the containers the foods come packaged in – even if they are already plated for service. Re-plate all of your purchased items on holiday service ware or just some of your own nice buffet sized service ware. Stay away from plastic, unless it’s really nice.
To make your buffet look professional and interesting spend a little on garnishes for the buffet plates and create levels with stacks of books or sturdy boxes under the buffet table cloth. Footed cake plates can come in handy for buffet food party planning also.
Put some fresh flowers or foliage that fits with your holiday in a large pitcher or vase and place it on the buffet to add to the color and beauty.
Pick up some colorful cocktail napkins, nice holiday canapé plates, and glassware to reduce the clean-up process to a toss in a garbage bag.

Serve Up Some Cheer!

To keep things simple and affordable, choose one regular beer, one lite beer, one red wine, and one white wine. To make it even simpler, make a signature holiday punch or drink with no more than 3 ingredients. Be sure to have an assortment of soft drinks for the designated drivers also. Sparkling cider can be kind of special for those who have offered to abstain from alcohol for the evening.

Plan for an average of three 6-8 ounce beverages per guest.

Whip Up Something Elegant But Easy

Here are a couple of different and tasty recipe ideas that take little to no effort.

Lamb Chop Appetizer

Purchase mini lamb chops in bulk to make a savory, plate-free appetizer for guests. Season chops with salt and pepper and chopped rosemary, then grill or broil. Serve with small napkins.

Brie Bites

Purchase mini quiche cups. Put a small chunk of Brie cheese in each cup and top it with a dollop of your favorite preserve – cherry or pear are my favorites. Top the preserves with a few chopped almond pieces and bake at 350F until the cheese is soft, warm, and melted – about 8-10 minutes. Serve hot – and delicious!

Buffet food party planning is a breeze when you rely on the convenience and variety you can find at the bulk warehouse stores. There’s nothing like a huge table, laden with plenty of food to make guests feel like there is a serious holiday party underway!

Ann Hill is a successful party planning expert and hospitality professional with many years of personal and professional party and event planning experience.


She has planned parties for a broad spectrum of guests and clients – from family and friends to national and international dignitaries.


She loves to entertain and wants to share the easy and challenging lessons she has learned with eager novice and seasoned hosts. Her goal is to instill her #1 objective for entertaining – the host should enjoy planning the party and the party itself as much as his or her guests do.


Ann has recently completed a new book on party planning, “Seven Party Planning Secrets That Will WOW Your Guests – and Are Easy on You and Your Wallet.” It will be available on her web-site. Check back soon at http://partyplanningeasyas123.com/party-planning-information/ to get your own copy.


Check out other articles on her web-site for more party planning information.


And be sure to sign up for the FREE entertaining, easy-to-follow and implement “Planning Fun and Memorable Parties” Mini-course on her web-site. Discover how amazingly easy it is to plan for and host parties that are fun for both your guests…and you!

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