After trying this out at a few different parties now, I think I can confidently say- “this is THE best party food hack!” It was SUCH a hit at each of the parties, it’s pretty easy to throw together, and it makes quite the “wow” factor when your guests first arrive. So here’s how you do it, and some tips to make it even easier for ya. I call it- “the junk food charcuterie” or “every teenage boys dream come true”. The later could have other implications though, so we’ll stick to the first shall we?
Party Food Charcuterie How-To
The general concept is that you get a lot of food, you unwrap and unpackage it all, and then just spread it out on the table. You generally want to group like things all together, add some platters for height variation, use parchment paper under greasy or messy foods, and above all else- have your guests wash their hands before they dig in! But speaking of digging in, lets dig into more of the specifics.
Theme or no theme?
The first thing you want to ask yourself is, do you want a theme for your spread? I’ve done it both ways. In one you can follow the favorites and preferences of the birthday boy or girl (or if its not a birthday party base it on what you think your guests would prefer). For the other you can really lean into a certain genre of food and serving platters etc.
Here is an example of where I let the theme lead me with my food choices and display. This was at my son’s Lord of the Rings party so we went with a more rustic, farm to table type feel. When you are using a theme you can add some accent items to really pull it all together. In this case it was little lanterns, candles and whole carrots that I spread around the display.
And here is an example from my son’s 11th birthday where the only theme was things that he likes to eat. You will notice things like a tray of taco bell tacos, fancy root beer bottles, a donut display in the middle for height, and lots of candy. He does love fruit, by the way, so we had some of that too ;). If you want to see how I made that donut display check out my Instagram post here.
Here’s one more example of a themed one from my son’s army/camo birthday party. I used camo netting for some fun texture and as a base, some tanks from the dollar store and American flags are thrown in here and there too. Then just a lot of green and brown food. You can check out more pictures and the full blog post here. I don’t know, what do you think? Which do you like better, theme or no theme?
When it comes to setting these up there’s a few things to keep in mind-
- Don’t set out foods that will get stale too far in advance, wait until just before eating to add those to your display
- Save the packaging for leftovers! I hate throwing away food and always put any leftovers back in the original packaging after the party
- Use parchment paper to protect your table or tablecloth. If you have greasy or messy foods use parchment paper under it. Things like salami or Cheetos you probably don’t want to put straight onto your table or tablecloth.
- Use platters to vary the height. You can put the majority of the food right on the table (or parchment paper) no platters needed! But to add a little height interest I suggest putting some of the food on something elevated, like a cake stand.
- Add some finishing flair (totally optional) to bring the theme together. Like toy tanks, candles, character cut outs etc
Make sure you follow along on Instagram for more party tips and hacks! I’ve got you covered :).