Sangria Party Week 2: Planning & Prep
Welcome to Foxes Love Lemons Sangria Party Week 2014! I had such a great time throwing a backyard sangria party last year that I decided to do it again! Stay tuned all week for details about party planning, sangria recipes, appetizers, dinner and desserts!
Since last year’s introductory Sangria Week post detailed how I set up the party itself (equipment, decorations, activities, etc.), I thought this year, I’d go into further detail about how exactly I plan and prep all of the food I serve (sprinkled with photos of this year’s activities).
This party is not a potluck. I tell my guests that I WANT TO make all the food, and I really mean it. I love cooking, I love making party food, and I love getting the chance to do that to my heart’s content one time a year. I only request that each guest brings one bottle of wine (which I use to either top off the sangria jugs as the evening progresses, or I save and drink myself later on down the road).
If they insist on bringing something else, I tell them to bring ice. And more ice. Really, as much ice as they can carry. The jugs of sangria themselves don’t stay cold for long once they come out of the fridge, so we need lots of ice for our glasses. We also need ice for coolers of beer, water. etc.
What this means is that I’m prepping and cooking for a party of 14 – 18 people in a tiny kitchen with an already overstuffed food blogger’s refrigerator (and luckily, an extra fridge in the garage. Life saver). It definitely requires careful planning and storage.
I like to prep as much of the food as I can in the days leading up to the party. I do not want to spend time cooking and prepping during the party; I want to be playing badminton. I make sure to choose a menu of LOTS of cold items (dips, several cold salads) and just a few hot dishes that can be kept warm in slow cookers (pulled pork for sandwiches, lentils like baked beans). Here’s how it went down this year, day-by-day:
- Clear out as much fridge space as humanly possible by drinking 8 cans of sparkling water and eating a ton of apples and eggs. Toss anything that is past it’s prime.
- EPIC GROCERY SHOPPING TRIP. Bring the groceries into the house during a thunderstorm. Fun.
- Make veggie dip, store in tupperware.
- Make both flavors of sangria, in their jugs. Keep them in garage fridge, covered with plastic wrap, because the lids of the jugs always want to pop off.
- Clean/cut veggies for dip; fruit for fruit salad and sangria garnishes. Store in food storage bags.
- Clear ALL clutter from my kitchen counters. I have extremely limited counter space, so every inch counts when it comes to a party like this. The coffee maker and toaster can live in the basement for the weekend, I need the space.
- Wash assorted sangria glasses and serving platters. Make sure I have enough serving dishes and spoons; use sticky notes to assign platters for each item. Borrow from friends if I need extra.
- Finish all cold salads and store them in their serving dishes, covered with plastic wrap, in the fridge. That way, come party time, I just need to pull them out, uncover, done.
- Finish prep work for all other dishes. I’m making stuffed mushrooms, so I make sure the mushrooms are clean and their stems are plucked out. I’m making grilled chicken wings, so I rub those with spices today.
- Type up and print a menu for the party and post it in the kitchen. More on why I do this here.
- Set up badminton net.
- Do any last-minute assembly/baking of appetizers (but really, there’s not much left to do!)
- Put pulled pork and lentil dish in slow cookers to warm up for dinner later.
- Finish sangrias with soda.
- Put out all appetizers; turn on some music.
- I’M READY TO PARRRTAAAAAYYYYYY.
Ideally, by the time guests arrive, all appetizers are out, sangria is ready to pour, and the kitchen is clean and calm. As the evening progresses, we switch from appetizers to dinner. I toss any extra appetizers (because they’ve likely been sitting out too long to be safe to save), and hide their serving dishes in the dishwasher. This is a big trick – use your dishwasher to hide things! I don’t even load it properly; I just throw stuff in there to get it off the counter. I can always go back the next morning and re-load the dishwasher properly. The important thing is to not be stuck doing dishes when I should be having fun. Just throw it in the dishwasher, man.
All of the food for dinner is either in the fridge already on it’s serving platter, or on the counter ready-to-eat in slow cookers, so putting out dinner takes me less than 5 minutes. After dinner, I do the same dishwasher hiding trick, then go play more badminton.
Come back tomorrow for all of the details about the two types of sangria I served this year!
All Sangria Party Week 2014 Posts: