How to throw the ultimate family lunch

Food5 min read

Shopping, preparation and portion control – what to consider when you’re hosting a big get-together

The guest list is confirmed and the date is set. All you have to do now is throw yourself into a whirlwind of preparation before your family (or friends) arrive en masse.

Here are the steps you need to put together a successful afternoon of eating and merriment for a large group.

1. Plan

As the saying goes, perfect planning prevents poor performance. If you do as much as possible before your guests show up, you will find it easier to relax and enjoy yourself on the day.

To start with, choose your menu. For a family lunch event, guests would generally expect some nibbles to start, followed by a generous main course and then something sweet. Unless you are a gourmet whiz in the kitchen, keep it simple and stick with crowd-pleasing dishes such as a ham and pineapple pizza (for the kids) or pesto pasta with chorizo and olives.

Write a list before you head to the shops and be sure to include all the extra bits and pieces such as serviettes, plastic cups and paper towels for spills. Try to go shopping the day before – that way you can make a quick trip in the morning if you forget anything.

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2. Prepare

If possible, make a dessert the night before and keep it in the fridge. On the day, start early and write a list of tasks in order of priority.

Prepare a platter of cold hors d’oeuvres that your guests can help themselves to. These are sure to be a hit:

Have your platter ready ahead of time so that early arrivals won’t be waiting around for something to eat.

The biggest challenge of a feast for dozens is serving the main meal before it goes cold. Make it easier on yourself by making salads as well as hot food – that way you won’t have to squeeze everything into the oven (this simple Champagne Ham, pinenut and bean salad is sure to be a winner).

3. Serve

It can be very distracting if your guests arrive expecting food and drinks while you are still in the middle of cooking.

Avoid this problem by setting up a drinks table. Put all the drinks in a cooler with some ice, line up glasses or cups and have a self-serve urn with water or juice that both adults and children can help themselves to throughout the day.

If you’re serving more than six to eight guests, go for a buffet. Place your dishes on the table with serving spoons or invite your guests into the kitchen to top up their plates.

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4. Enjoy!

A successful family lunch party is about more than just food. Plan a playlist of music that will put your guests in a great mood. Improve the party vibe with colourful decorations that suit the occasion.

Depending on the nature of the event, you can put together a fun quiz or ask your guests to prepare a short speech. You could even supply a piñata or a set of lawn bowls to help break the ice.

It’s important to not let yourself get too stressed, enjoying a meal with family should be fun for everyone. Things might not go according to plan, but if the food is delicious and the company is good, then it will be an event to remember.

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