Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Graduation Party Menu Ideas

Momma received a question from a family member who is having a high school graduation party soon.
" What do I serve, how do I plan this menu since it is an open house and what wine should I buy? Am I expected to have a party that serves the best?"

Momma Explains: First, your party responsibility is not that you need to have a party that serves the BEST but a party that serves the GUEST !
  1. Look at your attendees, most graduation parties really run a wide range of ages. You want the 2 year old and the 92 year old to be comfortable and well fed. You should plan a menu that can be placed on warming trays, sterno units or electric roasters. The food needs to be kept moist and appetizing over a fairly long period of time. Momma suggests some of her favorite large party menu ideas. I always make too much food, otherwise I could not send all my relatives home with goodies. Some people give out party favors, Momma sends you home with snackings!
Menu Ideas

  • Italian meatballs in red sauce or gravy as my South Philly guys call it.
  • Sausage and onions with fried red and green peppers
  • A crock pot of hot dogs..don't laugh ..remember the 2 year old and the 92 year old, both can eat that. Having it in a steaming water bath is perfect. Loads of toppings make a hot dog bar and the teenagers can be as creative as they wish. Get several bags of hot dog rolls.
  • Platters of Italian antipasto or just an American cold meat and cheese platter* note *-You should make up several small platters and take them out periodically as they are diminished. Have small rolls available for finger sandwiches.
  • Trays of easy finger fruit such as strawberries and red and green grapes. Just rinse and spread out over a platter.
  • A large green salad with a simple dressing. Leave extra pre-washed lettuce in bags in the refrigerator and extra dressing available too. Just refill the salad bowl as needed.
  • A pasta dish such as extra cheesy baked ziti or tortellini Alfredo. Both can sit for awhile without totally offending al dente sensibilities.
  • Desserts should be easy to pick up such as small brownies and cookies. You can always have a graduation cake as well.
  • A huge box of squeeze ice pops...remember the two year old, remember the teenagers..they like them and make wonderful ice packs when the two year old takes a spill while mom and dad are trying to gulp down food or drink.
  • As far as beverages, you will need alcoholic and non alcoholic. Try water, ice tea and lemonade or soda if you wish for the non-alcoholic.
  • Alcoholic beverages can be more challenging. A punch made with orange juice, sherbet and prosecco (An Italian sparkling type wine that can be far more reasonably priced than champagne) makes an Italian version of the mimosa and is awesome over ice. Wine is my beverage of choice, always, so I really want you to pay attention. If you do not know what wine to buy DO NOT just walk into the grocery store and grab some bottles. You need to go to a wine store and ask the personnel, " What are your highest rated wines at bargain prices?" There are several wine rating magazines etc. that have smart buys and bargain buys and the wine stores should have a few. Keep your wine choice simple. This is not a dinner party, try a medium bodied red such as Panarroz Jumilla Red and a simple white such as Cantus Sauvignon Blanc. These are inexpensive wines that give great value. However, your best resource is your wine merchant and of course your own taste preferences.
  • I will normally have a recipe along with a wine suggestion but for this post I will only include my antipasto recipe, if you need other recipes for my recommendations go to the Food Network site and get the recipes from the Italian chefs, or use a reliable Italian cookbook or site. When you cook an ethnic cuisine, use that ethnic source. Thinking you can go outside for those recipes has resulted in aberrations such as cottage cheese being used in place of ricotta which for Momma is gastronomical torture.

I buy good quality meats at the best prices. Check your local paper for their specials.
Place cleaned Romaine lettuce leaves on a tray. Follow with layers of hard and Genoa salamis, sopressato, capicola, prosciutti, mozzarella, provolone (use the sliced version for this if you wish), peel and quarter hard boiled eggs then add mixed olives, roasted peppers drizzled in extra virgin olive oil, pepperoncini peppers, and artichoke hearts. I also place out some good dipping olive oil and crusty bread slices. There are guests who make their entire meal out of my antipasto, but who cares, I want my guests to eat what they like. Now, normally I would have a Chianti or nice Sicilian wine with this but they can be a bit pricier, although there has been a string of great Italian wines at great prices lately. ( Sipavola Rosso Di Sicilia 2006 or Salice Salentino La Corte 2006 as pictured above) But if you can't find ones in your general budget, maybe you keep a few bottles on the side for your "special" guests.


  1. This is such a great idea for a blog - I'm so impressed! You can count on me being a regular reader.

    By the way, the picture that's attached to your first post is classic. I don't miss the goatee, however.

    Welcome to the blogosphere!

  2. I appreciate your positive support, Tuesdays will be for Wine and Food and Thursdays will be family

  3. It seems to me that the internet was created and evolved to this point just for you, Momma! Do "special" guests get popsicles for broken bones, too? Great blog! I'll be back...