Whether you’re hosting 10 or 100 guests, food served with love is a must for any salon. A deep connection is formed naturally when we feed another person, “Cooking for others creates and affirms a primary bond. It can therefore be a very fulfilling and meaningful deed,” explains Ayelet Barak Nahum, culinary art therapist with a Ph.D. from the Bob Chapell School of Social Work at Tel Aviv University, told HuffPost. “It can provide a means for social acceptance and create a feeling of belonging to a community.” Food is a gift from you to your guests.
As we previously identified in our Why and How to Host a Salon article, knowing our own capabilities and limitations serves us in every endeavor we take on, including hosting. If you can’t or simply don’t like to cook, order in! Grocery-bought pre-made dishes are also a great option, your guests are likely to be grateful for the invitation to an inspired dinner regardless or whether you slaved over the food for hours or just stopped by Trader Joe’s.
And remember, your food issues are of most interest to you and you only. Californians have a particular proclivity to sharing what they can and can’t eat that month with their host in advance, which can be both helpful and maddening. Times that by 12 or 48 or however many guests are coming over, and you can understand how as a host, your eyes may glaze over. Of course it’s prudent to ask your guests if they have any food allergies, avoiding guest asphyxiation is mutually beneficial to you and all salon participants.
Most hosts will ensure there are a variety of food choices so if a guest can’t eat meat there will be other options to enjoy. If any of your guests happen to have a hyper-selective palate, by this stage in life they will probably know how to juggle meals and will not come to the party starving (hopefully!) And remember, balance is key – if you’re serving whiskey cocktails and with finger-food, your imbibing guests may not stand a chance.
Make sure there’s a mix of everything the human body needs to succeed in your buffet (protein, carbs, essential nutrients and water!) as well as everything the dinner party needs to succeed (epic delectables and delicious drinks for fabulous people). Yes there will be a lot of dishes and potentially leftovers in the morning (the latter can be seen as a major perk of hosting), but it’s totally worth it. And if you can, don’t take the disposable flatware route – it’s too much trash and besides, your guests deserve the best even if your dishes and silverware don’t match!
In terms of a rule of thumb for how much is too much food vs. not enough food to buy, imagine everyone is going to be relatively hungry, figure out what the per person portions look like, then overbuy just a little. Letting everyone fill up on bread and protein finger food right away is a classic means of getting away without needing a ton of heavy entrees. A salad and veggie dish will round out your spread, and of course at least one beverage that’s non-alcoholic. If you’re hosting on a tight budget, consider making your salon BYOB – you’re providing delicious conversation and dinner, it’s not too much to ask your guests for help subsidizing the booze flow.
For more hosting pro-tips, find out how you can host a salon for under $100.