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What food to serve at reception following recital?

DreamMomDreamMom Registered User Posts: 99 Junior Member
edited July 2012 in Parent Cafe
Instead of a grad party, my S is having a music recital and reception at a school. Food for the reception will be taken to the school around 6 pm, sit for 1 ½ hour (not sure about refrigeration) before it is served.

We are expecting 20 or so adults and unknown number of HS seniors (S is extending invitation on facebook).

I keep thinking that I need to offer something more substantial than desserts in case people come without dinner. I can’t keep a large amount of hot food hot and cold food cold. (I own one crockpot and one cooler - but will be able to borrow additional ones).

What to do? I am looking for food which is simple (easy to prepare or require no prep), safe in room temperature, tasty, filling, kids friendly, easy to transport (from home to school), not messy (no janitorial service besides parents), and, well, not too expensive :) . Asian theme preferred but not essential (S loves Chinese food).

I am getting desperate. I even thought about pizza delivery. However, my pizza loving S rolled his eyes when I suggested that. Maybe pizza and recital don’t go together? :confused:

Please help me come up with some ideas!
Post edited by DreamMom on

Replies to: What food to serve at reception following recital?

  • binxbinx Registered User Posts: 4,318 Senior Member
    If I were you, DreamMom, I'd post this also over on the music board. In the Cafe are lots of good cooks and creative ideas, and on the music board are a few folks who have "been there, done that."

    We did the same thing for our S2 when he graduated from HS - had a recital with reception rather than grad party. It's hard to remember what foods we had, though. I do know we bought everything - mostly at Sams. We lived out of the country, flew home for graduation and the recital, so did not have the option of cooking anything. We had a big cake, some little German chocolates I brought home with me, some other desserts - like cookies or brownies, fruit tray (I remember strawberries), probably a veggie tray, and I'm not sure what else. Probably meatballs (I'm half Swedish - we do meatballs with everything - in a crockpot with a little beef broth - no messy sauces). I'm guessing rolls with cold cuts and cheeses, or else a prepared sub? Cheese and crackers?

    Obviously if I can't remember, it meant that it was neither stressful nor especially memorable!
  • violadadvioladad Registered User Posts: 6,645 Senior Member
    Here's a thread from the music major forum, http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/music-major/406708-parents-sons-senior-recital-question.html?highlight=recital and deals largely with undergrad senior recitals. Pick and choose any info that might be useful.

    Some thoughts to consider:

    -are there precedents? When in Rome, do as the Romans if feasible.
    -depends on time of day, mix of attendees, how much you want to spend in terms of money or time. I've been involved in a number of these through the years at various levels and venues, it can range the gamut from a fully catered hot buffet to a plate of cookies. Open attendance versus select invitation may play a role in your choices. Personally, I'd rather spend the time cooking "over the top" or paying for a notch above spread for a select group than feeding the multitudes. For some, the food, not the recital, will be the prime focus. Think of locusts. YMMV.
    -This time of year, can't go wrong with a cold cut, veggie and fruit platter, small quantities of bottled water, juice, or beverage of choice. Large iced bowls or aluminum catering typed trays filled with crushed ice should suffice for maintaining temp and assuring safety, for all but the most extreme conditions.

    Stress less about the reception, and enjoy the recital.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 63,930 Senior Member
    OK...my fellow music parents beat me. I was at the lake.

    We've done four music recitals with varying items served depending on the time. For a "dinner time" one, we actually ordered a small try of mixed mini sandwiches, a tray of mixed cookies, a veggie and dip tray and a fruit tray. We served lemonade and iced tea to drink.

    I went to a recital after my son's last one and I DID see a great idea. The family got three styfofoam coolers and filled one with those little half pints of water, the second with a mix of the 1/2 size cans of diet coke/regular coke, and the third with a mix of gingerale and sprite (also the little tiny cans). Saved needed cups and the like.

    For a recital that ends later, I would suggest a couple of dessert trays (we did one mixed cookies, and one mixed italian pastries) and a veggie tray. We had veggies at all four recitals and there were never leftovers.

    Keep it simple...finger foods only...and LITTLE plates. If you do the small cans suggestion, you will need only little plates and napkins.

    And personally, I would not suggest you cook. Go to the local grocery store and order trays of "stuff". You will end up enjoying the event so much more if you do this. The whole sale clubs are also a good source of things for these types of events.
  • Singersmom07Singersmom07 Registered User Posts: 3,878 Senior Member
    We did the same thing for DD her senior HS year. We had an open reception at the recital then a big family party at home. I know - how to add stress - prepare 2 parties instead of 1 :)

    I prepared things that could be kept cold in the cooler. Veggies and fruit trays. Cold cuts and cheese, rolls to make small sandwiches. Some finger food appetizers I do that are easy and not temperature sensitive. Chicken wings. We had bottled water and punch. We also had the finger food desert trays, cream puffs, cookies. At home we had a ham with the side dishes and a big cake.

    Make sure you have help for the food. Even with help it was a panic to get it out of the coolers and set up for the reception.
  • DreamMomDreamMom Registered User Posts: 99 Junior Member
    Thanks for the ideas thus far.

    S’s recital will be informal. He currently does not have a music teacher so this recital is something he decided to do on his own. The event will be held at his HS and the HS class of 09 is invited. No idea how many will actually come (S did ask for rsvp thru facebook). If they come, they will come primarily to socialize. Thus, food is important. LOL at the thought of locusts. We will not have a fully catered hot buffet but plan to serve more than a plate of cookies. I want to keep the locusts happy.

    So hard not to stress about the reception. I do come to the realization that I do not want to cook. Also realize that I need help just to set things up. I thought delivered pizza is the ticket but for some reasons S did not like the idea.

    My friend had a membership in Costco and she would take me there to shop the day before the recital.
  • maritemarite Registered User Posts: 21,586 Senior Member
    I've seen quite a lot of Asian prepared food, including sesame noodles, chicken wings, seaweed salad, and much else, so you may not have to exert yourself to please your son and his guests (who may not all care for Asian food).
  • violadadvioladad Registered User Posts: 6,645 Senior Member
    One idea to consider is purchasing made to order platters. We've had good to exceptional success, and they are available in versions of cold cuts, cheeses, veggies, fruits, even cookies, brownies. They typically can be ordered a day or two prior, can be picked up on the "way there". The national and regional supermarket chains or your local deli are typically very good quality and price wise. In many cases, these have been more cost/time effective for us personally than preparing from scratch.

    The half size drinks are the best idea, small water bottles, sodas, or juices. Eliminates the cups and pouring, potential messes, especially with younger ages, crowded areas, or animated guests. Often, it might be best to just stick to bottled water for beverage rather than trying to please all by variety. Unless it's a dessert type function, (or a large known crowd with a disposition to the hot beverages) I'd forgo the hot coffees or teas, unless you want to buy the bulk "to go" group serving options available at Dunkin Donuts, Tim Horton's or similar sources.

    Dealing with coffee makers, urns, milk and sugar and associated needs and cleanup is an aggravation factor not worth adding. The key is to enjoy yourself.
  • mom60mom60 Registered User Posts: 7,307 Senior Member
    The chicken salad wraps from Costco are pretty tasty. They also sell the chicken salad not in the wrap which would be less expensive. I saw a women today picking up what looked like platters of croissant sandwiches.
  • stradmomstradmom Registered User Posts: 4,671 Senior Member
    Echo the "little drinks" idea. It may not be as green as you'd like to go, but it's definitely less hassle.

    Don't trust the numbers you get from a facebook event rsvp.

    And most important - have a great time! Congrats to you and your S!
  • binxbinx Registered User Posts: 4,318 Senior Member
    Even though we've been through this once before, I'm glad to see this thread. My D will have her junior (undergrad) half-recital (they didn't tell me what the other half would be :D) this year.

    I have been hearing every year from D what a fantastic job this or that mom did with a classmate's recital. So I can use all the good ideas I can get - her expectations are high.

    of course, with her it will be all about presentation: having matching tablecloths, and decor, cute little desserts, and of course, the perfect dress. The actual food might be less important.

    S2 will also have his Master Degree recital this year.

    Since we will be traveling to NYC for it, and he doesn't like the school-catered receptions, we will probably do what we did for his undergrad recital: Allow him to invite friends to go out with us afterward. We said we would pick up dessert, but he only invited about 10 friends, so my H just paid for the whole dinner. He has an apartment now - maybe we can have a little party there this time. With him, his roomies, us -- and maybe we can squeeze in a couple friends if we leave the doors open.
  • DreamMomDreamMom Registered User Posts: 99 Junior Member
    I think I’ll probably go with the typical party trays (ordered from grocery store or Costco?) with an additional Asian food item or two.

    So I stopped by the local Chinese restaurant to ask for food ideas. The owner recommended a party tray of fried rice and a party tray of lo-mein. She said these would taste OK lukewarm and I can pick them up en-route to school. I am hesitant because of the messy-factor (how to clean up pieces of rice on the ground afterwards?) S is not enthusiastic either - turns out he is thinking about finger food like egg-rolls and dumplings. I think dumplings are out (awful when cold), chicken-wings are out (messy bones) but egg-rolls may be a consideration. I like egg rolls with crispy thin wrappers. Off to research egg-rolls I go…
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 29,723 Senior Member
    I think eggrolls are a better idea. Or pakora and samosas (cocktail size) from an Indian restaurant. Tea sandwiches would also work - cuke and butter or cream cheese, tomato, smoked salmon are what we had at high tea in Scotland - all yummy! Nori rolls filled with veg rather than raw fish might go over well too.
  • hmom5hmom5 - Posts: 10,882 Senior Member
    Asian sitting around over an hour is tough. You could do the Vietnamese type of cold rolls, but cold Chinese eggrolls are pretty bad. How about a huge Chinese chicked salad, dressed after the recital?

    Or maybe just enlist a friend to pop in some Costco potstickers and eggrolls and bring them hot? Kids do seem to love them.
  • DreamMomDreamMom Registered User Posts: 99 Junior Member
    hmon5 – unfortunately, I don’t know anyone who would heat up the food and deliver them to the reception. S doesn’t like the Vietnamese spring rolls (too bland for him). Do you happen to have a recipe for the Chinese chicken salad? What is in the salad besides chicken?
  • DreamMomDreamMom Registered User Posts: 99 Junior Member
    I love sushi myself. However, the nori won’t go over too well with S or his friends. I can hear them now – seaweeds, yuck!

    Mathmom – your mention of high tea brought back fond old memories. We don't do high tea here in the Midwest. :(
This discussion has been closed.