What, pray tell me, was I thinking!?

Okay, friends: I need your help.

We're having a birthday party here this weekend for our little girls (Adelia, very soon to be 2, and Audra, very soon to be 1). ~sob~

Usually we have our families over to celebrate our kids' birthdays. We have big families, so we generally do dessert only. The thing is, for some crazy reason, right before I mailed out the invites I made a last-minute decision to just go ahead and invite everyone to come on over for dinner, too.

For 37 people.

I don't know if that seems like a lot of people to you, but it does to me. For those of you who have been to my house, you know why. I adore our home, but it's not really meant to entertain large quantities of people.

I want to do it, I do. I figured it's a good weekend because a)Mark has a four-day weekend so we can do this thing together and b)it's two parties in one so we should do it up big.

But now I have NO IDEA what to serve that many people.

Here's what I've come up with and then negated:

Soup seemed the easiest choice, but then: it's not practical since everyone will be eating it on their laps. Or standing. So... not soup.

Then I decided a Burrito Bar would be good. I could make up a big pot of homemade beans and shredded chicken or pork and have all sorts of toppings out and everyone could pile up. But then- that's a lot of prep-work with the chopping of all the different toppings and then you have a lot of standing around our small kitchen, loading up on toppings. So.. that's out.

Lasagna or Spaghetti? Too splattery, since, again: everyone is eating it on their laps.

Help me out, please? I'm banking on the fact that you will have some great suggestions for me! Feel free to give any tips whatsoever that might be handy for the flow of so many people in a small space, too.

You're the best!


  1. How about sub sandwiches? You would need space if everyone assembled their own, but if you just pre-made some with mayo and some with mustard and offered pickles and cheese on the side, maybe? Another thought is pizza, which can be pricey to order, and lotsa work if you make the crusts homemade. We have a bread outlet that sells Boboli crusts at a reduced rate, so that might be cheaper if you wanted to put together your own.

  2. I was going to suggest meatball subs. I did them when we had our huge open house for everyone to come meet Davis when he got home. I just bought special sub buns [I cut them in half to try and make them go farther], had a crock pot full of meatballs and parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top. These also don't require silverware [which was a bonus because it saved me another couple dollars].

  3. Chili...a large crockpot of each red chili and a white chili. Make a batch of rice, and speghetti noodles and have fritos to offer for under the chili (stretches the chili) serve with shredded cheese, black olives, green onions, sour cream.
    Most everything you can do before hand and not have to be in the kitchen all day either.

  4. I like to make my sister-in-law's recipe for Italian Beef sandwiches, it cooks in the crockpot all day and takes just a few minutes to shred, very yummy, cheesy potatoes, which can be done ahead of time, and caeser salad. I have fixed this many times for company because I can make it ahead of time without a lot of effort. Or in order to satisfy the need for no silverware, you could serve with chips and veggie tray.

  5. These are really good suggestions.

    You know that no gathering at our home is small. Ever. My go-to meal is BBQ chicken wingies (the little party ones bought it a big bag at Costco) and cooked in a fab recipe someone once gave me. I do them in the roaster or crock pot.

    Garlic bread or sourdough (thanks, Costco), a large salad, and then usually something additional depending on what I have on hand or feel up to making or has been requested. Stupid Jell-O (the layered rainbow jell-o), baked beans, pasta salad, etc.

    One word on dessert: no brownies. Kids + brownies + carpet = disaster!


  6. How about a potluck? :>
    If you're okay with asking people to bring something to help out, which in my experience nobody minds doing, I think the burrito bar is a great idea. You provide the beans and meat, and assign the other stuff to other people.
    Happy birthday to those two sweeties! And enjoy the party!

  7. Tostadas! We just had a big family gathering and that's what we did. We did it for Xochi's baptism too. And remember, that's what the Hollisters had at their summer party? Just buy the shells at the grocery store, make a big pot of beans (or two) fry up some taco meat if you want and then toppings: lettuce, olives, pico de gallo, salsa, cilantro, cheese, sour cream etc. No need for sides cause you have all your vegetables and protein already. Kids love it because they can just eat beans and shell if they want. Adults always love it too. And it's super easy - especially if you have other people contribute and bring toppings.

  8. hi there! we have a lot of get togethers with our church....i like to do bbq sandwiches...just make it in the crock pot and everyone can serve themselves.

    or sloppy joes :)

    have lots of fun!

  9. My thoughts are:

    a. Rebecca suggested potluck
    b. Grill burgers
    c. get some pork ribs (super cheap at Costco) and season them, wrap them in foil packs, bake and you have braised wonders.
    d. i'm all for chili & cornbread, but makes it hard with the sitting arrangements
    e. tamales, taco bar, or like you said burrito bar
    f. pizza (if you need a peel or an extra stone--you can borrow mine)
    g. hummus platter or wraps.

    there's some ideas.

  10. My Audrey turned one the beginning of this month. We had over 30 people over to our not so large house!! We did meatball subs- let the meatballs simmer in one crockpot and then bought a bulk size bag of chicken wings and honey bbq sauce and let those cook in the other crockpot. My mom mad a large platter of crackers, cheese, and pepperoni while my mother in law made a fruit salad.
    Other things we have done in the past have been a platter of sandwhiches (cut into the little squares) or ham/cheese, bologna/cheese, etc. or bought the croissants and little hotdogs- but that might be pricey for so many people! Good luck!


  11. What great ideas! I'll have to use some of them in the future! We had 25-30 people over in our smallish house for Shana's b-day, and I did make lasagnas. I think I may have made 6 of them over the course of 2 weeks, and my mom made 1. It worked out fine - no spillage :-) I also had garlic bread and salad. I sent the kiddies into the basement with theirs. I LOVE the meatball sub idea that others have suggested. Maybe you could borrow crockpots? When we moved, we did chili in about 3 crockpots for those that were helping - but I think that was already suggested. I also had a large assortment of crackers and hummus and dips for apps. Can't WAIT to hear what you come up with!!

  12. **Forgot to say that everytime I invite gaggles of people over, I think "what was I thinking?!!" But after the fact, I realize that no one cared that they were a little crowded, and that being together was fun after all! Hope you will post pics of your special day.

  13. I'm with you on doing the main portion of the meal FIRST.

    I vote for a taco bar, potato bar or a large pot of spaghetti.

  14. I like the soup idea or maybe a big vat of chili with some cornbread on the side??

    I am thinking GOOD THOUGHTS for you and this full house you are going to have!! :) They are growing up SO fast!!

  15. WOW. You ladies are amazing! Thank you for all of your suggestions!

    I'm still pondering it all. I'm actually leaning towards a burrito/taco/tostada bar because:

    a)it's something we've done before
    b)it's my FAVORITE kind of food
    c)so many of you have suggested it

    And yes, some people have offered to bring something so that would be easy to assign them a topping.

    Hm... still pondering.

    I like the chicken wings idea, Kendra. Thanks! And especially the bread part because people can easily stuff themselves on bread! ;)

    The sub idea, too (but wonder if all that deli meat might be too expensive) and I like the BBQ sandwiches idea, too...

    I've never had a meatball sub in my LIFE! But so many of you have suggested it I feel like I've been missing out or something! :)

    Oh, Kamille- I thought of pizzas, too- but figured that would be too hard- not enough hot pizza for everyone to eat at the same time.

    Thank you all... We're shopping on Friday night so feel free to keep commenting with suggestions until then! :)


  16. Well whenever I get overwhelmed by how many people are coming to my house to eat, I go looking for my best Papa Murphy's coupons. :)

    *Enchiladas? I did them for company last night and stuffed them with Cutzi's refrieds, Spanish rice, and a little bit of chopped chicken. Pretty easy.

    *My MIL always does Cowboy Beans over rice for company. They're thick enough that they're not too messy.

    *Hot dogs and baked mac and cheese for the kiddos? Or even for adults too?

    *My go-to for family birthday parties are chili dogs...big pot of chili in the crock pot, and hot dogs and polish sausages on the grill. But all my kids have summer birthdays. :)

    Good luck! Have fun celebrating those two little cuties!

  17. I loved reading through all these great meal ideas... and I'm familiar with this "ack! so many people eating on laps!" thought.

    Have fun celebrating your two little girlies, Stacy!!

  18. The easiest for us with a small house and a large group of people is tortellini soup, it really is more of a stoup and can easily be balance and has all the veggies in it so the only other thing is bread which easily rests on the side of the bowl. Good luck. We have 3 birthdays in 4 weeks coming up!

  19. How about shredded BBQ pork sandwiches? Use good ol' crock pots to make as much as you need, throw 'em on some buns, add some chips and pop on the side, and you're good to go!! I know you'll have a blast no matter what you decide, Stacy. Wish I could wish your 2 littlest sweeties a happy birthday myself! Enjoy celebrating your little treasures. :)

  20. What about a baked potato bar? You can put out identical toppings in several places so people aren't all in the kitchen trying to serve themselves simultaneously?

  21. I meant to pop over yesterday to comment but the day got away from me... and now I see several others had my same ideas! :)

    My suggestion was going to be BBQ Pulled Pork (or chicken) in one crockpot and Sloppy Joe Filling (I have a great from-scratch recipe) in another. Easy to make ahead (so you don't have to be rushing around as people arrive, only takes a second to serve up (unlike sandwich, potato or taco-type bars that cause congestion at the counter), "finger food", so it's easy to eat from a lap or from standing, and pretty inexpensive. Cash & Carry has "slider buns" which are smaller, which will be easier for the little ones to handle (just go lite on the filling in the children's buns to avoid spills), but the adults can have several to get their fill. Have fun!!

  22. These are great ideas! I'm so going to check back here for our double birthdays in March! :) Happy birthday to your sweet little girls...crazy how fast a year goes. My vote is for the burrito bar...it takes care of everyone from the little to the big.

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  24. Hi S ~ what about a finger foods supper in honor of the girls? You're only teeny-tiny once :)

    Everything pick-ups and all things based on what the girls like - a cereal-based party mix, simple sandwiches (like cheese & bread) cut into fourths, pick-up fruits like grapes, berries or whole bananas, crackers, pick-up veggies (choose something simple-not a lot of chopping). Finish with tiny muffins or cupcakes for dessert.

    You can have your sweeties make cute signs for each food item, giving them fun names the little girls might say. Give everyone wipes with their plates, etc, since they will be eating with their hands...

    A friend did a tea party like this for us once, and I think the adults had more fun than the sweeties ;) Love you, Q

  25. I vote for the pulled pork sandwiches (so yummy) with a side of cucumber salad asian style...a little sugar and vinegar. Yes, atleast ask your mom and MIL to bring something, maybe a fruit platter or salad. Or if others offer take them up on it! Have fun!

  26. Stacy, did you get the comment I left here? It was long. I left right before I left one on the post above. The part I most wanted to communicate was that my bloglines has not been updating your blog. So I have been missing your posts.
    I had no idea you had posted this until yesterday when I commented. Isn't that weird?
    Let me know if you never got the comment (I don't know how moderation works) and I will catch up on what else I said.

  27. Amy~ I never got your comment. It never came through on my comment moderation thing. Sorry!


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