In choosing recipes for your menu, include items that are healthy, filling and can provide a balanced meal. Even if you set up your party more like a cocktail buffet, choose foods that allow people to “make a meal”. It will help everyone feel satisfied and not over eat.
Make sure to keep it simple. Pick recipes that have no more than 10 ingredients and do not have complicated instructions. In fact, make sure you include tried and true dishes you already know how to make. Next make sure to plan out the cooking so you can prepare most items ahead of time, not just the day of your party. With desserts I have even been known to make them way ahead and freeze them so I can make sure to get all the cooking done in a manageable fashion.
Choose foods that are visually appealing. Picking colorful dishes can do this. Also think about visual variety so each dish does not end up looking the same. Then you can enhance overall visual appeal through the presentation of each dish, which can be as easy as adding parsley and cleaning the sides of the bowl or platter before serving so it doesn't look "messy" to the eye of your guests.
Right-size your portions. Think about foods that can be served up as individual servings which includes muffins, cookies, Bibb lettuce filled with a serving size of pasta or any variety of salads and grains; also easy is serving up dips with sliced vegetables in a rainbow of colors. These are all simple self-serve options that have been pre-served or cut into measured out portions.
Keep drink choices simple too. Get in the habit of always offering a low calorie, non-alcoholic choice, even mentioning it first. This can be as easy as sparkling water infused with cucumber or lemon. I have a lot of fresh mint in my garden so I often garnish sparkling or tab water with a sprig of it. It smells wonderful, adds a fresh hint of mint to the drink and looks so inviting. And you can’t beat how easy it is to do.
Remember a couple of finishing touches to add to the festive nature of your party. A bouquet of flowers in a strategic place for guests to enjoy is always a plus. You can even use fun fruits or vegetables from the grocery store to dress up a table and add some visual interest. Think about music too. It can add to the mood and ambiance of your party. With the ease of online streaming music stations you can pipe music throughout your home with a click on your computer. Picking out some colorful paper napkins can add color and integrate the theme of your party. If you have time, you can even roll your flatware in the napkin, tie it with a coordinating ribbon and place the rolled napkins in a wide vase or bowl to make a beautiful centerpiece for the buffet.
Now that you have everything planned and organized, remember that you should have fun too. By thinking through the menu and the preparation of all your party fixings, you can. There is no need for you to get overwhelmed, you can never go wrong with simple and colorful.