As I began planning our studio open house, I knew I wanted it to be fun and casual. I was mindful to create something that someone, regardless of food restrictions, could find something that they could eat, a problem I often have when I go to events. I called my friend Katie Kafarakis, to see if she’d be willing to help.
We started doing our research and came across “That Cheese Plate,” on Instagram. I fell in love with the organic feel of their layouts, they didn’t feel fussy or pretentious. Katie immediately recognized many of the food items were from Trader Joe’s, so I was off to explore Trader Joe’s and to stock up on crackers, cheeses, nuts, chocolates, dips, cookies, etc. We knew Costco would have some good options as well, so I did some price comparisons and realized, especially for the meats, Costco was the better option.
Two weeks before:
Check your local stores for selections & do price comparison.
Order Amazon items.
If you feel like you need a guideline, make a sketch (see last pic below)
One week before:
Buy non-perishable foods.
Buy all perishable foods.
Cut veggies from veggie tray and celery.
Wash and dry Grapes.
Wash and dry Strawberries.
Cut some of strawberries in half (for visual interest).
Cut some of figs in half (for visual interest).
Dry off pickles if they are going directly on craft paper.
Place plastic table cloth on table.
Place craft paper over plastic table cloths.
Place plates and napkins on the corners of the table.
Place bowls for hummus, dips, olives, honey, etc..
Place toothpick containers around the table.
Place bowls in desired location.
Layer food around the bowls and then work your way out.
Fill in all the empty spaces.
Fill the bowls with the hummus, dips, olives, honey, etc..
Place small spoons in the bowls and tongs around table.
Costco: (quantity one unless otherwise indicated)
Perishable: Vege Tray
Green Olives with Garlic and Jalepeño
Meats & cheeses:
King Cheese Spirella Mini’s (we only got one pack, but I should have bought two)
Fratelli Beretta uncured variety pack
Bellota Salchichon Sausage
Choc. Covered Blueberries
Chocolate Coconut Almonds
Cinnamon Roasted Almonds
Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Mixed Nuts (salted)
Fresh Herbs (thyme & rosemary) for garnish
Celery (because sometimes the Costco vegie tray celery leaves much to be desired)
Cheeses & dips:
Blue Stilton Cheese
Spanish Cheese Sampler (3 varieties)
3 flavors of Hummus
Thai Chili Cashews (do not get, so spicy)
Jar of Honey (with honey comb)
Sweetened Dried Lemon Slices (1)
Sweetened Dried Orange Slices (2)
Dried Apple Rings
Dried Pineapple Rings
Cookies & Crackers:
Vanilla Baton Wafer Cookies
Chocolate Baton Wafer Cookies
Mango and Ginger Crisps
Raisin and Rosemary Crisps
Fig and Olive Crisps
About 4 other varieties of crackers, including Gluten Free
Hazelnut Chocolate Cookies
Butter Almond Thins Cookies
6 Pack of Tongs (2)
Plastic Table Cloth (2) to fit our 4x7’ island
Black craft paper on a roll (Amazon)
Clear plastic plates, set of 100 (2)
Fancy bamboo toothpicks
What food was left over:
Olives (kalmata and green)
Orange Slices (only get one bag)
Lemon Slices (skip completely)
Baton Wafer Cookie (both flavors)
Blackberries (only by one container)
What food I wish we had more of:
King Cheese Spirella Mini’s (Costco)
**Tip: I brought a roll of plastic wrap and told the last dozen or so guests to load up some plates, then we wrapped them in plastic wrap for them to take with them. I also brought disposable containers to send food home for our team, bartender, etc.
Above you will see the sketch I made (whilst I was sitting in church ;), worried how it will all come together. I first placed the bowls and what dip/item would go in them. Then placed foods I thought should be near that dip/item. For example, veggies and crackers near the hummus and spinach dip. Apricots, crackers, and cheeses near the honey. You can play around with lots of combinations. I used some of the more visual ingredients, like the orange and lemon slices to fill in areas that needed a little pop of color and life. I decided to put the sweets (chocolate almonds, cinnamon almonds, cookies, wafers, etc. on the corners, near the plates, where they were less likely to get contaminated by different meats and cheeses. No one needs a pastrami flavored cookie. You will notice I also put plates and napkins on each corner, so people could access the food from anywhere on the island. *Please excuse the messiness of the sketch, I never intended for anyone but myself to see it. :)
It really was so fun and easy to plan! I hope you will give it a try!