Planning A Dinner Party for 32

This past weekend, I catered a dinner party for 32 people that my two very special friends hosted. And since my husband and I were invited as guests, too, my hostess friend gave me a challenge. She wanted dinner buffet to be served all room temperature. Not because she loves her food lukewarm, but she wanted me to sit down with friends and enjoy the meal. I was so grateful for her thoughtfulness!

So here is the menu and how I planned ahead so I could join the party, too!

Crunchy Fried Shrimp
Sundried Tomato and Pesto Torta with Crostini (click here for recipe)

On Buffet Table:
Baked Whole Salmon (click for Recipe)
Beef Tenderloin served with Horseradish Cream
Grilled Vegetables with Tri-color Rotini
Blanched Asparagus with Fried Vidalia Onions
Yeast Rolls (click for recipe)

Salted Caramel Ice Cream (click here for recipe)
Assorted Homemade Cookies

Grilled Veggies

Homemade Yeast Rolls

Beef Tenderloin grilling on TEC infrared grill.

Blanched Asparagus topped with fried Vidalia onions

Baked whole salmon

And everyone's favorite, Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Here is what I did so I could sit down and enjoy the meal and my friends.

I know there are several details I have not written here, but do you will see how much freezing was done ahead for this menu.

And no prep was done on the day of the party. The day of the event should for be last minute grilling/frying, cooking, and garnishing, so you can have creative touches on your dishes and have plenty of strength left to be a gracious hostess!

After bulk of grocery shopping is done,

5 days prior or earlier:
*Make yeast rolls and freeze
*Prep shrimp, wrap in wrappers and freeze
* Make ice cream and freeze
* Make cookie dough and scoop into balls and freeze

3 days prior:
*Make Pesto torta and refrigerate
*Make horseradish cream and refrigerate

2 days prior:
*Bake salmon and refrigerate
*Purchase veggies for grilling
*Purchase beef tenderloin, have the butcher trim and tie for you to save time

1 day prior:
*Wash, trim, prep all veggies
*Blanch asparagus and refrigerate
*Cook rotini, refrigerate
*Spring roll fillings prep and refrigerate
*Decorate and garnish salmon
*Set the buffet table, serving platter ready

On the Day of Party:
5 hours prior
*Take out rolls to thaw and rise
*Bake cookies & set aside

3 hours prior
*Grill veggies & slice
*Fry onions
*Bake rolls

2 hours prior
*Grill beef tenderloin, let rest well & slice an hour before party
*Put asparagus on platter, top onion last minute before serving

1/2 to 1 hour prior
*Fry shrimp and keep warm in lowest temperature in oven
*Lay out all the food on buffet table
*Begin rolling spring rolls, set aside covered with plastic wrap
*Appetizers on platters

Guests arrive and party begins!


  1. A glorious feast, amazed by all the artistry and vibrant flavors!

  2. Wow, everything is so beautiful! :)

  3. AMAZING! I love everything on the menu. You're quite the cook. Beautiful, I wish I could taste everyone on those dishes and the ice cream too (=

  4. I would kill to come over for this party

  5. Kay, you are KILLING me with these pictures! And these descriptions! I would give an arm and a leg to sit down at that table right about now . . . great job!

  6. Your photos a beautiful! Great to connect on fb with you too!

  7. i'd rather have a pb&j and some time with you than this incredible feast and no Kay. missing YOU more than your food!

  8. Beautiful food! It's nice to see a blog from Savannah-my favorite place to live!

  9. Do you have a recipe on your site for the yeast rolls? I want to do this for our Christmas Celebration at church for about 125 people. Do you have a menu for a Church Christmas Celebration that is done after church. Thank you.

    1. Cheri, here is the recipe. Depending how big you make them, each recipe makes about 50-55 silver dollar size rolls :) http://www.thechurchcookblog.com/2010/12/barbies-yeast-rolls-revised.html