It's easy to plan a dinner party. The mix of men and woman are most likely your friends so they'll have similar and predictable tastes.
But a bridal shower, well, that's a delicate mix of (usually just) women - most of whom have never met before - with ages ranging from tiny tot to elderly aunt. Add to the mix a myriad of tastes ....and opinions.
Here's some tips to help you be the perfect hostess!!
1. Be interesting but not bizarre
Consider the ages of your guests when planning the menu.
While your trendy friends may like haute cuisine, your elderly aunts may roll their eyes at sushi. Have something for everyone.
2. Consider the health of your guests
An all dessert menu for the shower may seem like a fabulous idea but most families have one or two elder diabetics.
Plan a lot of desserts, if that's your menu idea, but include foods that are protein packed instead of sugary. Cheese cubes, raw veggies and dip, sliced chicken, chilled shrimp, and nuts work well.
Fresh fruit, by the way, is high in sugar so a fruit salad is not much better than a gooey dessert where diabetics are concerned.
3. Include several vegetarian dishes
Many people are choosing vegetarian foods more often these days for health, religious and ethical reasons.
It's easy to include several choices in your menu.... in fact many dishes are naturally vegetarian any way. Vegetarian means no meat... no chicken, beef, pork or bacon.
Salads, soups, and desserts are easy. Main dish vegetarian selections might include pasta, macaroni and cheese, quiche, stuffed eggs, fish, shrimp or sea food, finger sandwiches or wraps with garden fillings, plus there's a whole world of vegetarian meat substitutes that even meat lovers will enjoy.
Vegan, by the way, is harder but do-able. Vegan means no animal products at all including butter, milk, cream cheese, sour cream, and fish.
4. The chew factor
Tiny tots and older folk may have trouble chewing.
Vary the menu to include some soft, easy to eat foods.
Easy to eat foods include cooked foods like stuffed eggs, meat or salmon loaf, soups, stews, small shaped pasta (macaroni), rice, gelatin.
Harder to eat foods are spaghetti (the long strand, twirling around your fork kind), raw veggies (including pasta salad with lots of raw veggies), fried chicken, raw apples, nuts, hard or chewy candies ...anything that requires biting into or crunching.
5. Knives, forks and seats
Provide table and chair space for each guest. Older guests and children need a seat so they can manage their plates.
Use place cards. Your guests will be more comfortable if they know where to sit. Cluster friends or co-workers. Put guests with children at the same table. Seat family of similar ages together.
For buffets, have the tables pre-set with glasses, cutlery, and napkins so the only thing guests have to carry back to their seats is their plate. Instruct servers (and/or younger family members) to assist older guests.
If your party space is too small to accommodate everyone sitting down at a table, think of another way. Maybe you could divide up the guest list and plan several smaller showers ...or have the shower outside in the garden.... or rent a church hall.
Whatever you do, have real table space and a real chair for each guest. Bales of straw, beach chairs, folding snack tables and similar make-shift seating may be fun for friends and casual fare but when it comes to bridal showers with multi-aged guests, it's important to have reliable seating.