When you grab a latte at your local coffee shop, it’s common to see multiple nondairy options right next to the traditional milk and cream. Similarly, alternative proteins are often located next to poultry and meats in many grocery stores. In today’s world, it’s become mainstream for people to follow specialty or nontraditional diets and to easily avoid certain ingredients, and many food brands have happily catered to this rise in food choices. (And, for the record, we’re all about it!) However, what about a hostess who is simply inviting friends and family into her home? When you open your doors to guests that you might not know that well, how do you prepare a meal that has the best chances of suiting everyone’s dietary preferences? It might seem like an impossible task, but we’re here to tell you it’s surprisingly simple! Keep reading as we share 4 Ways to Create a Menu That Fits Every Guest’s Taste!
Before we launch into how to create a menu that works for most people, just remember that whatever you do, it is enough. It’s enough if you serve your crowd-pleasing casserole. It’s enough if you order take out. It’s enough if you go halfway homemade. It’s simply enough.
Why is it enough? Because you opened up your heart and home and invited people in. To show others they matter. To encourage connection in a world of disconnection. To create deeper bonds with those who matter most.
So, while you may try out one or more of our suggestions below, just remember that to create a menu with love and to be a hostess in any capacity is all you really need to do to be the Hostess with the Mostess. No matter what your menu looks like, just remember you are enough.
4 Ways to Create a Menu That Fits Every Guest’s Taste
1. Self-Serve Buffet or Charcuterie Board
Offering a variety of toppings to your guests and then allowing them to choose what goes on their plate will alleviate you of having to make that choice. For a buffet, start with something simple. (Above, we went with chicken & waffles and it was such a hit!) Then, offer toppings that change in texture, spice, dairy or non-dairy, and more!
Another choice is a charcuterie board. This is another “self-serve” option, as guests are able to pick and choose what they’d like. Go with a mixture of offerings, such as the apple & pork loin board seen below. Guests will appreciate the variety and won’t feel uncomfortable if they don’t prefer some of the offerings.
2. Food & Beverage Labels or Place Cards
By labeling food and beverage items, guests can easily make informed decisions on what they’d like to enjoy. A simple menu printed on card stock will be appreciated by all and bring a personalized touch to a special occasion. Use a simple card holder, such as these Chiseled Brass Card Holders, for a functional yet vintage-inspired look.
3. Create a Base Meal
With the rise of vegetarian and nondairy diets, creating a simple “base meal” will create an opportunity for guests to create a semi-customized meal. If serving a large salad, for example, do so with no protein or dairy in the salad bowl, but then offer those options as “add ons” to the salad. Similarly, pasta dishes are easy to make dairy-free with cheeses and creams added at the end.
4. Offer a Variety of Spice Levels
Some like it spicy. Some really, really do not. If your menu involves any level of spice, keep it mild for the base. Then, offer additional spices to guests who prefer the extra zing in their meal. This idea is especially important when hosting families, as children typically shy away from anything involving spice. On a similar note, when offering items such as salsas, remember to offer a variety of spice levels, from mild to medium and hot.
These simple suggestions will put you on the right track as you host gatherings in your home. Even if you employ just one of these suggestions, your care and thoughtfulness will not go unnoticed by guests. So, get to connecting this season with the people who care about most!
Hap-Bee Hosting, friend!