Coming up with an idea for dinner every night is a parent’s biggest frustration. We try to find a meal that everyone enjoys, that can be put together quickly, and reheats well for families on the go. Many of us Pin new recipes on Pinterest, but how many do we actually try? The key to adding a new recipe to your rotation is to sample it. At a My Favorite Meal party, guests bring one of their favorite dinners, hot and ready to taste. Additionally, partygoers are asked to bring their recipe and three more family-sized servings of the same dinner, ready to cook or freeze. Guests leave the party with a stack of recipes and three different prepared meals to take home to their families. Sound intriguing? Keep reading for party plans.
Get started. Make your guest list and determine any allergies ahead of time. Decide whether your friends will bring their take-home meals frozen or with all the ingredients combined as a ready-to-cook meal. The best way to send invitations for this type of party is electronically. It allows guests to see the input on allergies and announce what dish they are bringing to avoid duplicates.
Directions for guests. Ask everyone to bring three dinners - all the same recipe - in disposable dishes. They are to bring an additional, smaller size portion that is prepared for everyone to taste. The other three meals will stay in the guests’ coolers until later in the evening. Guests will also need several copies of their recipe - one to go with the prepared dish and one for each guest. The hostess(e) will provide a folder or binder for the guests to take the recipes home.
When the guests arrive, give them a number to put on their cooler and on their dish in the serving area. Partygoers will spend the first part of the evening sampling the meals, mingling, and catching up with friends. Have no fear, picky eaters! You will be able to read the recipes to see if the dish includes an item that is not your favorite.
After everyone has eaten to their hearts’ content, the guests will pull three number cards from a bowl. These are the dishes that will go home with them. If a guest chooses their number, pick again. When a number has been chosen three times, be sure to take it out of the bowl.
Keep the party going with games
What’s Your Favorite…? Write a question such as, “What is your favorite place for pizza?” on the top of a piece of paper. Clip paper to a clipboard and pass around the room asking everyone to write down their answer. Other questions might include: “What is your favorite date-night restaurant?” Or “What is your favorite no-cook meal?” For an easy party favor item, make copies of answers and hand out to your guests so everyone can try out the new suggestions.
Spicing It Up. How well do you know your spices? Place 10 spices in numbered plastic bowls. Each guest will smell or taste each spice and write the name of the spice next to the corresponding number on their score card. Use everyday spices like oregano or garlic salt and mix in a few like tarragon or coriander.
Matching. This is a great game if everyone at the party knows each other. Include a questionnaire in with the invitation asking questions about your guests like favorite music group, sports team, or hobby. Write answers down on separate index cards. At the party, the hostess(e) asks the questions while guests work together to try to guess which answer goes with which person. Players get a point for each correct answer.
Name Your Favorite… Write down simple categories like cereal, TV show, holiday, or dog breed and put them in a bowl. Have the guests draw out a card and name five of their favorite items in that category within 30 seconds.
Guests at a My Favorite Meal party will leave with a full belly, three delicious home-cooked meals for their families, and a folder full of new recipes.
Here are some fun variations to the My Favorite Meal party:
Stealing. Create a card called “Steal” in your numbered bowl. When a guest receives that card, they can steal a dish from someone else who has already had a turn.
Breakfast. Getting the kids out the door with a decent meal in the morning can be a challenge. Ask your guests to bring their favorite grab-and-go breakfast, like casseroles, sandwiches, or breakfast cups.
Themed Party. Themes are fun at any party and a My Favorite Meal party is no exception. Try pasta recipes, Mexican dishes, crock-pot meals, meatless choices, or salads.
Bidding War. Give each guest tokens (poker chips work well) and an auction number paddle when they arrive. The hostess(e) serves as the caller and each item is auctioned off starting at one chip. Because each guest only receives a limited amount of chips, those who want the ‘higher priced items’ may only get one thing. Remember, there will be multiples of each item and the bids may be different for each round.
Pam is a freelance writer, and a mother of three. Planning themed parties is one of her favorite things to do!
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