Party Buffet

This is a tasty, filling & varied complete buffet menu, with recipes and miscellaneous advice, for 40 people that can be made by one person in a normal domestic kitchen. (It probably contains enough food for 60 but I am greedy & I like a good safety margin!)

It is the menu of what I actually cooked for a party of lively dancing, chatting, eating & drinking that I hosted for friends in a village hall in 2009. It was successful. This page is a work in progress and eventually should have the recipes from other similar party buffets of mine merged in with the quantities for each separated out. I might also separate out some of the more involved recipes on their own pages with my previous detailed recipes.

For an idea of the facilities needed to cook these quantities (the non-cream cakes were made in advance but the rest was made on the day of the party), my kitchen is 3.2 m by 2.2 m with 2 m of work counter (when cleared of clutter), a gas oven with 4 hobs and eye-level grill, microwave oven with browning element, sink with draining board, single width under-counter refrigerator & single width under-counter freezer. For transport after cooking, it was more than would conveniently fit in a small car along with the PA system, decorations etc. without making specialist containers or risking cosmetic damage (tipped cakes etc.) so I offloaded the food which was ready first and decorations etc., into a friend's car earlier in the afternoon and only took the later produce (primarily the hot goods) in my own car in the evening directly to the venue. For the return trip after the party, all the leftovers & dirty containers, along with the PA system and decorations, fitted in my car because many of the containers could be stacked & nested and the remaining food did not be kept horizontal for presentation quality.

As for the problem of various food restrictions that different people have, it is of course good to find out in advance roughly what proportion of guests will be in what food restriction categories in significant numbers. For this menu, I estimated that vegetarianism was the only category with more than one or two guests in and about 1 in 3 were vegetarian. However I made proportionally more vegetarian food as omnivarians tend to scoff the vegetarians' food in addition to their own!

To avoid having to answer lots of question about what foods were and what they contained when busy with other party running aspects, I printed labels. For efficiency of both writing & reading, I listed for whom each dish was not suitable for rather than the conventional listing of for whom it was suitable; an innovation which was well received as both amusing & useful. Here are my example food labels as PDF (& as editable RFT, it uses Poster Bodoni font for headings which may need to be substituted on your PC though).

1. Main Dishes

1.1. Lasagne (Lasagne Bolognese)

Quantity: 1 roasting dish.

Ingredients: 500g dried lasagne pasta, 2 kg mince (minced meat not mincemeat), 4 440 g cans of chopped tomatoes, 0.5 kg (preferably precooked tinned) carrots, 4 medium (about 150 g) onions, 300 ml (preferably full cream) milk, 1 tbsp olive oil, flour (cornflour is easier than normal wheat flour) for thickening, 400 g cheddar-like cheese, herbs (e.g. bay leaves) for decoration.

Method: If the lasagne pasta is the type that requires pre-soaking or pre-boiling (see instructions on packet) then do that (but take care as soaking lasagne stacked can cause it to stick together). Heat some of the mince in a saucepan so that its fat can be used for frying the onion (could use additional oil but this dish is fatty enough as it is). Peel & chop the onions. Add the onions to the saucepan and leave them to brown with occasional stirring. Chop the carrots (if they aren’t precooked chopped tinned ones). Start making a basic Béchamel sauce by mixing the flour into the oil thoroughly then mixing the milk in (a very little at a time until it becomes thin, otherwise it risks going lumpy). When the onions are lightly browned, add the rest of the minced meat, the chopped tomatoes and the carrots and cook until the meat is no longer looking raw (takes longer if the mince is frozen but not much longer, unless it is stuck in big lumps, because the liquid tomato juice carries heat well). The reason I recommend precooked tinned carrots is that the carrots ideally should go soft but it takes a lot longer to cook carrots to that state than to adequately cook the rest of the ingredients. Whilst the mince mixture is cooking, heat the Béchamel sauce (this needs more gentle heating than the mince and frequent stirring to avoid it sticking). Hopefully it will thicken; when it does, stop cooking it. When the mince mixture is ready, that is the Bolognese sauce. Pour half of it in a roasting dish (I use one about 18 cm x 33 cm but it was not quite big enough so I served the left-over Bolognese sauce separately). Add half the lasagne pasta in a layer covering the mince mixture. Repeat by adding the rest of the Bolognese sauce on top and covering it with the rest of the lasagne pasta. Pour the Béchamel sauce on top of that. Slice or grate the cheese & sprinkle it on top of the Béchamel sauce. Optionally decorate the top with several bay leaves. Cover loosely (using a lid or aluminium foil) & bake at about 180-220 deg C (gas mark 4-7) for about 0.5-1 h (temperature & timing are not critical as the ingredients are all nearly cooked but it is smoother & nicer if cooked longer).

Serving: Serve in the roasting dish either cold or reheated. Provide a serving spoon. Can reheated before serving if prepared in advance.

1.2. Imam Bayaldi (A Turkish Aubergine based Vegetarian Dish)

Quantity: 2 roasting dishes.

Ingredients: 2 medium (e.g. about 20 cm long) aubergines, 1 440 g can of chopped tomatoes, 0.5 litre of (normal UK salted drinking, not concentrated) tomato juice (alternatively use tomato purée or passata & add more water & salt to compensate), 2 medium (about 150 g) onions, 4 garlic cloves, handful of raisins &/or sultanas, (optional) 1 heaped dsp pine nuts, salt, olive oil for frying, (optional) lemon juice, (optional) misc. chopped herbs, (optional) misc. fresh herbs (e.g. bay leaves) for decoration.

Method: The night before (or a least a few hours before), put a handful of raisins &/or sultanas into water to soak. Skin & chop the onions and fry them in a little olive oil. Meanwhile take the aubergines, remove their calyxes, dice them and put them in a roasting dish (about 18 cm x 33 cm). Sprinkle a little (traditionally a lot but some guests might have health concerns anent that) salt on them. Peel and chop the garlic cloves & add them to the frying onion. Open the can of chopped tomatoes, tip the contents into the saucepan and stir in. If using lemon juice &/or chopped herbs, stir them in too. Pour the onion & tomato mixture over the aubergines. Pour the tomato juice over the contents of the roasting dish trying to get all the visible aubergine wet. Drain the raisins/sultanas and sprinkle them over the dish. Optionally decorate the top with herbs (I used bay leaves as I have a bay (Laurus nobilis) tree in my garden). Sprinkle the pine nuts if using (they are traditionally part of the recipe but usually expensive in the UK and so can be omitted if not found on special offer) over the top too (on last both so they toast and so as to show off a luxury item). Cover loosely (using a lid or aluminium foil) & bake at about 180-220 deg C (gas mark 4-7) for about 0.5-1.5 h (temperature & timing are not critical as, I think, all the ingredients are edible raw; but it is nicer once the aubergines have gone soft and absorbed the juice). (This recipe is a compromise of one based on versions from several books that was roast in halved aubergine skins (good for presentation at a dinner party but inconvenient for a buffet) and a friend’s one done Floyd-style all in one saucepan (quicker to do make and easier to serve but not as decorative).)

Serving: Serve in the roasting dish either cold or reheated. Provide a serving spoon. Can reheated before serving if prepared in advance.

2. Side Dishes

2.1. Tuna Pasta Mayonnaise

Quantity: 1 serving bowl full.

Ingredients: 4 185 g (net weight, about 130 g when drained) tins of cooked tuna (cheapest broken pieces will do but ensure “environmentally friendly” as many guests are concerned anent that), 500g of short bulky shape (e.g. fusilli, penne or conchiglie) dried pasta, 150-200 ml of mayonnaise, 1 medium (about 150 g) onion or 1 dsp of onion powder.

Method: Cook the pasta by boiling for the time specified on the instructions on the packet or until cooked to al dente degree. Drain the pasta and put it in a bowl. Drain the tuna and add it to the bowl. Finely chop the onion, or use onion powder, & add it to the bowl. Add the mayonnaise & mix all together well. If fresh herbs are available for decoration, arrange them on the top surface. (This recipe was simply from me cheaply bulking out normal tuna mayonnaise but actually looks better and feels better (as one can eat a greater volume of it.)

Serving: Provide a serving spoon.

2.2. Bean Salad

Quantity: 1 serving bowl full.

Ingredients: 4 440 g (net weight, about 250 g when drained) tins of precooked beans of different looking beans (e.g. pinto, adzuki, borlotti & flageolet with possible substitutes due to unavailability including kidney, cannellini & haricot (but not baked beans)), 150-200 ml of mayonnaise, 4 cloves of garlic, (optional) misc. chopped herbs, (optional) pitted black olives, (optional) fresh herbs for decoration.

Method: Drain the beans and put them in a bowl along with the herbs & olives if using. Finely chop the garlic & add it to bowl. Add the mayonnaise & mix all together well. If fresh herbs are available for decoration, arrange them on the top surface.

Serving: If using a transparent glass bowl (which looks better than a plastic one) for serving then transfer the bean salad to the bowl after mixing as the mayonnaise spread up the wall of the bowl above the food does not look attractive. Provide a serving spoon.

2.3. Bolognese Sauce

Quantity: A third of a mixing bowl full.

Ingredients: See lasagne.

Method:  Simply the left over Bolognese sauce from the lasagne as I made too much to fit in the dish (but also useful for those who did not want milk products with meat).

Serving: Provide a serving spoon.

3. Vegetables

3.1. Baked Potatoes (Jacket Potatoes)

Quantity: 40.

Ingredients: 1 medium size (about 100 g) normal (not fussy about whether old or new) potato (no need to buy the more expensive ‘baking’ potatoes).

Method: Rinse the potatoes (probably will not need serious scrubbing if they are supermarket ones that have been washed before bagging rather than sold muddy) & remove any manky bits. Put in oven loose on barred shelves (in my normal size domestic oven, I can fit 20 per shelf which leaves me a spare shelf for cooking other things during the potato cooking) and bake at about 200 deg C (gas mark 6) for 1.5 to 2.5 hours (depending on arrangement in oven, size of potatoes, type of oven etc.). It does not matter (indeed it is better) if they are cooked for longer than needed so there is no need to check each potato, just occasionally shuffle them around (in particular, swap the shelves over half way through cooking if one has a non-fan oven that has different temperatures a different shelf levels). When the bigger potatoes in several in different places seem cooked, most of the potatoes are probably done but leave for at least a bit longer to ensure all are cooked. As for packing more potatoes into an oven, I have not tried stacking them on a shelf but I guess that will increase cooking time. I’ve tried putting potatoes below the bottom shelf on the bottom of the oven compartment itself (some oven instruction manuals forbid this) but they cooked much slower.

Serving: Put the potatoes together into a plastic bag lined with foil (since I am not sure that the plastic won’t leach something nasty if heated) to keep them together to conserve heat then put this bag into a cardboard box amply lined with scrunched up newspaper and do up the box. I’ve had potatoes keep nicely warm for 4 hours in such a simple arrangement. For serving simply open the box, paper, bag & foil and it looks nicely rustic.

3.2. Vegetable Salad

Quantity: 1 serving bowl full.

Ingredients: Misc. raw vegetables of different colours (e.g. tomatoes, black pitted olives, bell peppers, mushrooms, cucumber, crisp lettuce).

Method: Chop vegetables attractively and practically (not e.g. long floppy bits of lettuce that are difficult to spoon up without dribbling on the table). If using lettuce then don’t use too much (unless one wants to cheaply bulk up a salad disappointingly). Mix the chopped vegetables in the serving bowl.

Serving: If the salad does not mix homogeneously, at least ensure that the more attractive ingredients (e.g. olives & tomatoes rather than lettuce) dominate in the top layer to encourage guest to start on it. Provide tongs or a pair of serving spoons/forks.

3.3. Vegetable Salad with Vinaigrette

Quantity: None (in my plans but not made for this party).

Ingredients: Vegetables as per ‘vegetable salad’, ingredients for vinaigrette (olive oil, vinegar (preferably wine vinegar), lemon juice, ground black peppercorns, (optional) garlic, (optional) herbs).

Method: Prepare vegetables as per ‘vegetable salad’. Mix the vinaigrette ingredients in a container (if using garlic &/or herbs either chop them finely or liquidise them in a blender with the rest of the vinaigrette) and pour over the salad. Alternatively, if the salad can easily be mixed, just pour the vinaigrette ingredients directly over the salad and mix in to save washing up a separate mixing vessel.

Serving: As per ‘vegetable salad’.

4. Finger Food

4.1. Vegetarian Sushi Ingra Rolls

Quantity: 40.

Ingredients: Rice (short grained sticky Oriental type rice, e.g. pudding rice, not non-stick long grained Indian type rice), seaweed wraps (dark green paper-like squares of seaweed about 20 cm x 20 cm made specially for sushi), misc. crunchy colourful salad vegetables (e.g. carrots, cucumbers), vinegar (officially rice vinegar but any vinegar will do), (optionally) horseradish sauce (officially green Japanese wasabi sauce but normal white British horseradish sauce is good enough as the colour won’t be seen).

Method: There is a lot of complication, time consumption & mystique to traditional sushi making and this is hyped by shops & restaurants in the UK so taking sushi to a party is (at present) considered by most in the UK either an impressive piece of work or a generous expense but actually basic sushi that will satisfy most attendees is quick & cheap to make. Put the rice in a saucepan, add cold water to cover the rice by a factor of about two, bring to the boil and simmer until the rice has cooked through stirring occasionally so the bottom layer does not burn. If all the water is absorbed before the rice is cooked, simply add more water & continue (the traditional method is to take great care &/or use a dedicated rice cooker machine but gung-ho seems to work ok). The result should be a sticky mass of rice with not much free water (a little is not a problem as it will probably soon be absorbed as the rice continues to cook for a bit in retained heat). Whilst the rice is cooking, slice the vegetables julienne style (i.e. into slivers). If using horseradish sauce then spread some thinly in a line along each seaweed square. Put on washing up gloves (the rice is hot). For big rolls, pick up or spoon some rice onto a square of seaweed, arrange it in a rectangular heap along the full length of one edge of the square, about 3 cm across & about 1 cm high, arrange some of the sliced vegetables longitudinally down the middle of the rice heap, push the vegetables into the rice slightly so they stay put and roll the whole thing up into a sausage with the seaweed on the outside & the vegetable in the centre. The terminal edge of the square will hopefully naturally stick down due to the moisture present from the rice but if not then simply moisten it like an envelope (well, preferably with clean water not licking :-) ) and stick it. For small rolls do the same but cut each square into 2 equal rectangles and use each as was done for a big roll but with a smaller (quarter volume) heap of rice (along the long edge). Work quickly until one runs out of cooked rice or seaweed. Then put water in the rice pan for it to soak to aid later washing up. Leave the sausages to cool (not vital but makes cutting easier). Cut the sausages transversely into about 2 cm lengths using a sharp non-serrated knife (e.g. French cook’s knife or carving knife) that has been well sharpened and frequently moistened with water to reduce sticking.

Serving: Arrange the sushi rolls on end (with the tidiest end uppermost) in a single layer on a platter which is preferably large, darkly coloured (e.g. black or red) and shiny.

4.2. Grilled Sausages (Cold)

Quantity: 20.

Ingredients: 20 British type frozen cook-from-frozen normal size (about 10 cm long)  sausages (cheapest supermarket pork & rusk ones will do).

Method: Use a microwave oven with grill (also called ‘browning’) element to simultaneously microwave the sausages whilst grilling them. The microwaving defrosts them and ensures they are cooked right through whilst the grilling gives them the attractive and tasty browned patches. Put the sausages on a rack in the oven and put a dish underneath to catch the messy dripping fat. Turn them over half way through cooking. One will need to experiment with ones particular microwave oven for timings and powers; my 850 W microwave oven on full power with the sausages on a high rack (so nearer the grill) will cook & brown 10 sausages from frozen in 10 minutes. Leave them to cool elsewhere whilst using the oven for the next batch of meat (do all the microwaved meat sequentially so as to only have to clear up the messy fat once but do pork after other meats as some guests object to pork traces in other foods).

Serving: Arrange them on a baking tray (makes it look more as if they were conventionally cooked than lazily microwaved).

4.3. Grilled Chicken Drumsticks (Cold)

Quantity: 20.

Ingredients: 20 chicken legs (ideally free range but free range is not only much more expensive than battery but it is difficult at present to get specific cuts, other than breast, rather than just whole carcasses free range).

Method: If the chicken legs are frozen, leave them to defrost in a refrigerator overnight. Use a microwave oven with grill element as per ‘grilled sausages (cold)’ to simultaneously microwave the sausages whilst grilling them. One will need to experiment with ones particular microwave oven for timings and powers; my 850 W microwave oven on 30% power with the meat on a high rack (so nearer the grill) will cook & brown 10 chicken legs from chilled in 20 minutes (I cooked them slower than the sausages to enable more grilling as I like skin to have reached crispiness and to allow the subcutaneous fat, which puts some people off as unhealthy and looks unappetising when cold, to run out).

Serving: Arrange them on a baking tray (makes it look more as if they were conventionally cooked than lazily microwaved).

4.4. Crisps

Quantity: 2 big bags (or several small bags if there is a multipack deal on that is cheaper for the same total quantity).

Ingredients: Either premium batch-fried crisps for the high-status look and extra crispiness or mixed normal strongly flavoured (e.g. ‘meaty’ flavour rather than plain salted) ones for the traditional party look and lots of morish salty artificial flavours.

Method: Their main use is for when people crave salty snacks after energetic dancing & alcohol.

Serving: Decant into a bowl.

4.5. Peanuts

Quantity: 400 g (but very few were eaten).

Ingredients: Roasted salted peanuts (either with shells to give something fiddle with or without shells for simple snacking like crisps).

Method: Take care not to contaminate other food with them as some people have serious reactions to them.

Serving: Decant into a bowl (I forgot to do this which is probably why few were eaten, also I had ones with shells on when there were plenty of better things provided to fiddle with).

4.6. Dolmas (Dolmades, Stuffed Vine Leaves)

Quantity: 0 (Took about 40 as spare food but did not need them.)

Ingredients: Tinned dolmas, (optional) tomatoes for decoration.

Method: Dolmas are fiddly to make (the preserved vine leaves available in the UK are difficult to wrap around fillings without breaking, unlike sushi seaweed, and difficult to seal well enough for subsequent cooking intact) and served expensively in small quantities from take-aways and so are considered fancy food if served at a party but some types can be bought readymade cheaply in large tins from Kurdish, Greek and other Mediterranean grocery shops in the UK. If they are taken out the tins before presentation, it is not obvious to most guests that the dolmas are not homemade. For added homemade appearance, arrange them in a dish with pieces of fresh tomato.

Serving: In a dish or on a platter, preferably with fresh looking additional food as decoration.

5. Accompaniments

5.1. Bread

Quantity: 8 demi-batons.

Ingredients: Part-bake (long-life packet) demi-baton loaf.

Method: Put in oven as specified on the packet (typically only takes 10 min & can be done during the baked potato cooking). They still taste fresh for a few hours after cooking so can be served cool if catering in advance.

Serving: Either slice up and put on a platter or in a basket or (less effort & keeps fresh longer) provide with a breadboard (or chopping board) and bread knife (I’m assuming one won’t be inviting any antisocially violent people to the party).

5.2. Butter

Quantity: 1.

Ingredients: A 250 g pat of butter (salted as it tastes better and guests who are very health concerned won’t be eating the butter anyway).

Method: It is for guests to use on the baked potatoes & on the bread themselves.

Serving: Can decant it to a dish but just opening up the packet is okay (unless the packet is really ugly or cheap looking) as it makes it look fresh & spontaneous. May be good to provide a dedicated butter knife to deter people putting their dirty knives back in the butter but probably someone will then just take & use the butter knife for other purposes anyway.

6. Cakes

6.1. Alcoholic Chocolate Freezer Cake

Quantity: 4 (which was too many, only 2 were eaten).

Ingredients & Method: See the detailed recipe for chocolate freezer cake.

Serving: Keep it in the cake tin it was made in for transport then either serve from the tin, simply lift all the slices together with the greaseproof paper on to a small plate or separate out the slices neatly onto a serving plate depending what suits the style of the party best.

6.2. Heart Attack Cake

Quantity: 2 (with coffee flavouring, without alcohol).

Ingredients: 400 g ginger nut biscuits (basic supermarket ones are better than expensive bakery ones as basic ones are small, flat & uniform in shape), 0.75 pt whipping cream, 200 ml brewed coffee, Camp coffee (or other icing-type coffee flavouring & colouring), (optional) whisky (or other spirit).

Method: Allow the brewed coffee to cool (so as not to scald fingers). If making an alcoholic cake, add the spirit to coffee when cool. Whisk the cream until stiff. Dip a biscuit fully into the coffee then quickly put the biscuit flat on a dinner plate. Do the same with another biscuit and stack it on top of the first but put (a teaspoon is helpful) a small amount (enough to act as mortar between the biscuits) of whipped cream on one side of it & turn the biscuit so that side is against the previous biscuit. Each biscuit must only be dipped very briefly into the liquid (because ginger nuts are very absorbent) and put in place very quickly thereafter (because ginger nuts disintegrate in seconds once wetted). Repeat that until one has a stack about 5 biscuits high. Turn the stack on its side and bend in a slight curve fitting the plate. Continue adding biscuits stuck with whipped cream, but now horizontally on the horizontal stack, forming a sausage shape that curves around the plate. When all the biscuits have been used up, bend the sausage shape into a torus & stick the last biscuit to the first. Mix the coffee flavouring, if used, into the whipped cream. Spread the whipped cream all over the torus of biscuits down to the plate. (This recipe, with the whisky but without the coffee flavouring in the cream, came from a friend. I added the coffee flavouring as a bodge one time when I made insufficient whipped cream as the biscuits showed less obviously through the thin bits in brown cream than in white only to find that guests preferred the appearance and flavour of the brown version so that was the version I subsequently made.)

Serving: Serve on the plate it was made on (it is too fragile to lift off). Provide a wide bladed knife, spatula or serving spoon. Make & move out the first slice as guests are often reluctant to be first to cut into a cake.

6.3. Rock Cakes

Quantity: 2 batches.

Ingredients & Method: See the detailed recipe for rock cakes.

Serving: Heap them up on serving plate or put them back on a backing tray to look home-made.

6.4. Sachertorte

Quantity: 0 (Left in freezer as I had a surfeit of cakes.).

Ingredients & Method: See the detailed recipe for Sachertorte.

Serving: Provide a sharp non-serrated knife (assuming one does not invite violent people to ones party; if one is daft enough to do so then cut the cake in advance) that will go cleanly through the soft sticky chocolate glaze. Leave it uncut on the buffet initially as it looks more impressive like that. Then cut several slices and move at least one out of position (or eat it :-) ) as guests are usually reluctant to be first to cut into a fresh cake.

7. Drinks - Alcoholic

7.1. Buck’s Fizz (Alcoholic Punch)

Quantity: 6 litres.

Ingredients: 3 1 litre cartons of orange juice, 3 bottles of fizzy white wine.

Method: Pour the ingredients into a punch bowl & mix.

Serving: Serve in punch bowl (I used a large plastic mixing bowl which will stack for storage with similar ones). Provide a ladle.

7.2. Red Wine

Quantity: Initially 4 bottles (uncertain as to how many in total were consumed as several people brought additional wine bottles and someone other than me took way the empties for recycling).

Ingredients: Bottle of cheapish red wine (take care though as some cheap red wine can be really horrible, merlot is generally safer from being disgusting at the low end than the UK default of cabernet sauvignon).

Serving: Either ensure all bottles are screw-top or ensure there is a corkscrew available (preferably have a corkscrew even if all ones wine is screw-top as someone may bring a corked bottle). Open at least one bottle each of red & white as sometimes guests are initially reluctant to be seen to be first to open the alcohol, particularly if they only want red and there is already unfinished white open or vice versa.

7.3. White Wine

Quantity: 2 bottles.

Ingredients: Bottle of cheap white wine (I prefer dry but medium suits more people, generic chardonnay is currently the popular UK party default and the Germanic hock etc. which were UK party staples of the 1970s to early 1990s are particular unpopular now).

Serving: Either ensure all bottles are screw-top or ensure there is a corkscrew available (preferably have a corkscrew even if all ones wine is screw-top as someone may bring a corked bottle). Open at least one bottle each of white & red as sometimes guests are initially reluctant to be seen to be first to open the alcohol, particularly if they only want white and there is already unfinished red open or vice versa.

7.4. Fizzy Wine

Quantity: 3 bottles (in addition to that which went in the bucks fizz).

Ingredients: Bottle of basic supermarket dry cava (Spanish wine which is made the same way as the famous French champagne and tastes similar (i.e. of not much but fizzy & dry) but is a quarter of the price of even the cheapest supermarket champagne).

Serving: Take care not to cause damage to yourself, other people or objects if the cork is ejected at speed. Immediately put thumb over opening after cork comes out and release pressure slowly to prevent it fizzing out making a mess to clear up (and wasting wine). If the cork does not easily come out try levering out with a screwdriver or similar if it is hard plastic (taking additional care not to damage bottle) or cut the top of the cork to a more grippable shape and twist it if it is natural cork or similar.

7.5. Beer

Quantity: 24 cans (far too many as most people preferred wine, punch or non-alcoholic).

Ingredients: 500 ml can of Carlsburg larger (the most popular beer in the UK since it is fairly neutral but crisp in flavour (real ales are much more interesting but different people like different ones which makes party provisioning difficult), ubiquitous and cheapish (and there are nearly always supermarket special offers if bought by the case)).

Serving: Most people drink straight from the cans which saves washing up (to rinse & dry the cans, as required for my local recycling, I cut them in half using kitchen scissors first which makes the job quick & easy).

8. Drinks - Non-Alcoholic

8.1. Orange & Cranberry Punch (Non-alcoholic)

Quantity: 7 litres.

Ingredients: 4 1 litre cartons of orange juice, 1 1 litre carton of cranberry juice drink (choose one like Pomegreat that has considerable pomegranate juice in not one that is mainly sugared water and tastes like squash), 1 2 litre bottle of (supermarket cheapest) low-calorie lemonade.

Method: Pour the ingredients into a punch bowl & mix.

Serving: Serve in punch bowl (I used a large plastic mixing bowl which will stack for storage with similar ones). Provide a ladle.

8.2. Mulled Blackcurrant Juice (Non-alcoholic Low-calorie Warm Punch)

Quantity: About 5 litres.

Ingredients: Water, low-calorie blackcurrant cordial (not the archetypical Ribena brand, the supermarket own brand had a much higher blackcurrant content as well as being much cheaper), cloves, cinnamon (either traditional sticks or powder), (optional) other spice (e.g. nutmeg or allspice), low-calorie sweetener, oranges (or other fruit for decoration), lemon juice, (optional, I omitted it because I had too many other drinks based on orange) orange juice, (optional, it was not low-calorie but I had it to hand so I used it) honey

Method: Heat up water in a stock pot (or other big cooking pot or pan). Slice the oranges transversely. Add spices to the water & simmer for 10 min. Add all the other ingredients a bit at a time tasting as one goes to get a good mixture. The result should have the blackcurrant being the main resulting flavour component followed by sweetness (quite a lot but enough to make it taste sickly) from the sweetener followed by the cloves, cinnamon & lemon juice to give it the distinctive mulled flavour finally followed by the other flavours giving some complexity. (The result tasted surprisingly close to high-sugar alcoholic mulled wine!)

Serving: Serve in the stock pot with a ladle. To aid transporting it, make it concentrated with less water than it will finally have, pour (when cooled if the bottles are not heat-proof) into bottles & put the fruit slices into a plastic bag. At the venue tip it all back into the stock pot, add more water and reheat it.

8.3. Orange Juice

Quantity: 4 litres (4 cartons) (in addition to that which went in the bucks fizz).

Ingredients:  1 litre carton of (supermarket basic) orange juice.

Serving: Only open one carton initially as any unused drink can be kept for later use almost indefinitely.

8.4. Fizzy Water

Quantity: 8 litres (4 bottles).

Ingredients:  2 litre bottle of (supermarket bargain brand) fizzy water.

Serving: A very versatile option as people can mix it ad lib with other soft & alcoholic drinks and nicely thirst quenching for dancers. Only open one bottle initially as any unused drink can be kept for later use almost indefinitely.

8.5. Tea

Quantity: Made as required.

Ingredients: Tea bags, milk (cartons of UHT milk are convenient as unused ones can be stored almost indefinitely afterwards).

Method: Allow people who want it to make their own.

Serving: Ensure there is a means of heating water (preferably something simple and safe-ish like a kettle or urn) and heat-resistant cups available.