So you’re planning a little get-together for your friends, and you’ve got a mental list of foods to serve and people to invite. If you think planning a party is that simple, you’re in for a surprise. For one thing, there’s no such thing as a ‘little get-together’ when you’re in the Philippines. Filipinos love a good party, and they’ll go great lengths to have a feast every chance they get.
Unfortunately, we’re a bit less enthusiastic about putting the party together. How do you know which foods to serve, or how to go about making them? No worries—Filipino parties are really quite simple, even if they’re always bigger than expected. Filipino cuisine is very diverse, so you won’t run out of choices, and as long as there’s lots of food, your guests will be more than happy.
Unconvinced? Here are some useful Filipino food planning tips you can use for your next get-together.
Plan in courses
Ever been to a party where there was too much dessert but not enough of the main course? It’s a common mistake among party planners—they’ll make a quick list of foods they like and then run to the grocery store. Avoid this mistake by planning the entire meal by course. Do you want to serve appetizers or go straight to the main course? How many desserts do you need? If you have more than two main dishes, you don’t need a lot of appetizers. You can serve a variety of Filipino desserts recipes or prepare one large dessert, such as a pie or cake.
Mind the time
If your party is in midmorning or late afternoon, you don’t need a full-course meal because your guests will just have eaten. Instead of heavy Filipino food recipes, serve a range of different appetizers or finger foods. Not only is it more convenient, it also allows them to mingle while enjoying your meal. Be sure to add variety, as people can get tired of one dish fairly quickly.
People’s appetites change with the time of day, so plan accordingly as well. About 10 appetizers per person per hour is appropriate for lunch parties. People are generally hungriest during dinner hour, so if you’re holding the party then, have at least 14 munchies per person. If you’re hosting in the afternoon, you’ll need about half as much.
Don’t serve it all at once
There are few things worse than running out of food when you’re hosting a party. Of course, the safest way out is to overestimate—besides, you can always use the leftovers for next week’s meals. But what if you’re on a tight budget? The best alternative is to portion each course. For example, you can serve appetizers first, the main courses next, and dessert last. Don’t put out all of your food at once. When everyone has eaten, fill up your table with all the courses. That way, when they’re all full, they can simply go back to the table and pick their favorites.
Overbuy the drinks
You can get away with making just enough food, but it’s best to play safe when it comes to beverages. You never know how much your guests will want to drink. To save money without going cheap, prepare a nice punch or a few decent cocktails and stock up on cheaper drinks like beer, juice and soda. Get creative by mixing your own drinks—there are several low-cost Filipino recipes for party beverages. If you’re buying mixers, get them in smaller bottles so you don’t waste the unfinished bottles.
During the party, serve the fancy drinks first, then get out the canned or bottled drinks when everyone’s had their fill. That way, everyone can try the cocktails and freshen up with the drink of their choice later on. Keep the drinks in an ice box. Be sure to stock lots of ice—about one pound per person—for outdoor or morning parties.
Prepare take-home containers
When the party’s over, a lot of your guests will want to take home some of your leftovers. Don’t go scrambling around for spare containers, which most likely won’t be returned anyway. When shopping for the party, pick up a pack of food bags or disposable plates. Give them to your guests when they want to take home some food. It’s more convenient for both parties—you don’t risk losing your best plates, and they can stuff the food in their bags instead of carrying a large platter all the way home.
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