Wow… it’s been forever since I’ve written a blog post but I have been wanting to kickstart it again for some time now. What better way than this?!

It was Dude’s 50th this year. I know… it’s hard to believe! He has like three grey hairs on his head and an adventurous spirit like a 25 year old. As much as I wanted to send him on an Icelandic adventure, much like the film: “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” it was just WAY out of our budget. So I decided we would host a gathering of our favourite people. My budget was a fraction of the cost of a trip to Iceland which is not hard, considering the trip could have cost upwards of $5,000 plus plus.

Our guest list totalled approximately 40. I considered hosting a dinner out, which could easily cost over $1000 even at a Chinese restaurant as the least expensive option here. There was no way a sit down dinner at home was going to happen and I didn’t want to be slaving in the kitchen the whole time. Also, our friends often gather for potluck dinners and I wanted this to be different from our regular get togethers.

I started searching Pinterest for ideas. I can’t even remember what words I started searching for but quickly learned that what I was looking for were grazing table ideas… a feast for all the senses! This way, the spread is put together, the guests can mingle and graze the whole time and all the prep can be done ahead of time.

So, how much food do I get for 40 people and make the table look full and feast-like?! A friend in the restaurant business suggested I estimate about $8-10 per person. The Italian market makes platters of four types of meat at 400 grams each to serve 25 people. I used those estimate to guide the amount of food to get. Also keep in mind, the more colourful the food, the more appealing it will look.

Here is a guideline of the food I chose to serve:

  • Charcuterie
  • Smoked salmon
  • Four types of cheese
  • Antipasti and dips
  • Assorted crackers
  • Few loaves of fresh bread
  • Fresh fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Dried fruit
  • Assorted nuts
  • Pickles and olives
  • Jams and mustard

To fill in the gaps, I bought some greens and flowers. It killed me that I actually had to pay for these since my mom just retired, after 30+ years, from her flower shop business at the end of 2018 and I knew exactly how much everything was marked up!

I covered my eight feet long table with brown craft paper and finally had an opportunity to use my pedestal bowl and cake pedestal. I wanted to make sure there was some elevation to provide visual interest, allowing the different foods on the table pop. I laid out the greens and placed the pedestal bowl, cake pedestal, and bread basket down the middle of the table, along with my three vases of flowers. I then placed my three serving boards around the table where I would place the cheeses and some of the meat.

I placed the larger items down first and then had my friends help fill in the gaps evenly around the table with everything else. For a final touch, grapefruit halves were placed around the table and I used some of the flowers to dot throughout the table and on top of the brie. VoilĂ !

Altogether I spent approximately $500 including the flowers and drinks. Worth it? Most definitely.

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