Holiday Helper: Party Planning Hacks

Today we’re offering some tips, tricks and time-saving hacks from the party planners who run Di Bruno Bros. Catering & Events. If you can you get through this post without wanting to throw a party, we’ll be shocked. So sit back, relax, and take notes on this sage party-planning advice.

Tips Courtesy of Amy Howe, Di Bruno Bros. Manager of Catering Sales & Business Development

1) How Much “Stuff” Do I Need to Buy for My Party?

Simple question, loaded answer. Not to get too amorphous into the analysis wild, but the #1 important thing to think about before mapping quantities is to know the crowd that you have coming. This applies for parties of 10 people up to parties of 10,000 people. Are you having an afternoon tea for the aunties in your family? It’s a safe presumption that you don’t need the same amount of food or alcohol that you’ll need for an all-night hangout with your high school friends.

Always get extra. No one wants to spend unnecessary money, or be saddled with too many leftovers, but at the same time, running out is much, much worse than not having enough. Besides, particularly in regards to bottles of wine or beer, you can always give extras to departing gifts as a nice parting gift. They’ll be happy, and you end up with less “stuff” left over.


Let’s Do Some Quantity Math Equations

1) Alcohol Math: How Much To Buy

wine-group-shotA party of moderate drinkers (your aunties for tea, your less-saucy family members): 1-2 drinks per person x the number of hours that your party is intended to last.

A party of heavier drinkers: 2-3 drinks per person x the number of hours that your party is intended to last. PLEASE NOTE: No matter how much you and your friends like to party, be responsible about consumption. We encourage you to over-buy, but we don’t encourage you or your guests to over-imbibe.

This is starting to sound like a lot of alcohol…so again, we’ll stress that knowing your guests is key to keeping costs under control. Are you hosting something tailgate-style and expecting a crowd of beer drinkers? Don’t blow your bucks on wine and booze. Is your theme more holiday-oriented, like a celebratory Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s Bash? Sparkling wine fits the bill, so make that the thing you stock up the most on, and supplement with a cocktail of choice.

On a budget? A convenient way to keep costs down is to not overdo it on the mixed drink options. Choosing one primary liquor to star in a mixed drink—a punch, for example—offers a cocktail option without having you splurge on the whole bar pantry for one party. And don’t forget that we’re blessed with great local breweries around Philadelphia. Give your favorite one a call to find out what it costs to buy cases of beer from them directly. Many offer special holiday brews around this time of year, which are extra fun to have as a holiday party offering. They tend to be higher in alcohol and only available for a limited time each year.

What can I bring? Is a great question that you’re likely to hear from a gracious guest. (Or that you can artfully suggest to people in the invitations or conversation. There are always ways…) If you’re stocking up on wine and beer, feel free to suggest a specific liquor to different guests. Ask Mary to bring gin and Peter to bring vodka – specific suggestions will help bring some bar variety to your party naturally. Just make sure you’re stocked up on mixers and ice if you opt to go this route, or include fun and different mixers in your request list. I’ve had parties where I’ve only purchased beer and asked for all booze to be brought, and they’ve been great successes!


2) Moving On To The Food Math…

Aperitivo PlateAgain, we’re searching for the happy medium between not running out of food, but also not over purchasing. No matter how much you like leftovers…

Cheese and charcuterie bites are always great party foods to wow your guests. And as you know, Di Bruno Bros. has plenty of great options in those departments.

Buying cheese? I suggest 1-3oz of each cheese being offered per person, depending on the cheese. With a stronger cheese (notably blues and stinkies) you can err on the side of less, unless you know your guests are fans of those. With firmer, accessible cheeses like Comte or Cheddar styles, go into the range of 3-4oz per person. That’s the sort of stuff that people snack on all night without even realizing that they’re doing it.

Don’t forget the adornments! Always get accompaniments – crackers, jams, the whole shebang. Besides the fact that they stretch the cheese portions much further, they also bring an air of festivity and a sense of fun. Cheese loves to get dressed up, just like your party guests do.

Do the same quantities for Charcuterie – 1-3oz of sliced meats is a great way to go, and remember that our stores can always pre-slice meats for you to your liking. Just like cheese, meat likes accouterments. Pick out a nice mustard or two, pickles or relish, and for something sweet, some truffle honey. This can be used for both cheese and meat, and is seasonally appropriate since cooler weather = truffle season.


3) Hors d’oeuvres (especially ones with cheese in them) never go out of style.

Some of the best and easiest hors d’oeuvres are made out of cheese! A favorite in our catering department (feel free to check out our catering catalog for ideas) is goat cheese balls. Just take 1oz of a soft goat cheese and roll it into a ball. Smash nuts, roll the cheese balls in the nuts, and top it all off with truffle honey. Stress relief and snack prep, all in one. Serve on a nice plate or board, atop some pretty green garnishes.

Delice de Bourgogne Amarena

Another favorite is to take a truffle crème brie (such as Delice with truffles) – spread it on a toasted raisin bread crisp. You can make these yourself by cutting out raisin bread rounds and lightly toasting them. Spread on the cheese, top with an amarena cherries or a cocoa pecan, and you’re done. Another pro tip is to whip the creamy cheese into a mousse-like consistency – this saves you money and stretches the cheese quantity out a bit.

4) Party time is not the time to try something new, something crazy, or anything that involves open flames.

Don’t stress yourself out trying to master the art of flambé to impress your guests, unless you consider accidentally setting yourself on fire a party trick. Parties are a great time to offer your favorite time-tested snacks. If you want to experiment, do it in the form of ready-to-eat purchased goods, such as a funky washed-rind cheese or a cured meat that you’ve never tried. Or at the very least, prep the new item the evening before the party, so you’ll have time to tweak it if necessary. Avoid culinary disasters and go for party safety instead!


5) Looking for a menu that screams “homemade” but without all of the effort of actually making it all by hand?IMG_4235

We hear ya, and there’s help! Halfway homemade is an easy thing to do. Pick up some pastry shells in any of our stores, and make your favorite filling of choice. You can make do fruit fillings, cheesy centers, or even funky savory jams to top a puff pastry. No one will ever know that you didn’t spend hours covered in flour. Check out this recipe for inspiration!

6) Last but never least, catering exists for a reason.

Beer CheeseIf you really want to host your family friends, or if wrapping your head around the tips in this post has left you exhausted instead of inspired, just enjoy being a host and skip “working” that night. Call DBs catering & events. We’re happy to do the work for you. You can expect professional service during your event, a full cleanup and wrap up of any leftover food, and no headache other than choosing which of our delicious snack options sounds the best to you. The gift of time with your family and friends is the best gift that you can give yourself, after all.