Menu - Graduation Open House

JaneJuneMay 5, 2014

Hi All,

We are planning a high school graduation open house for this June. We will have 150-200 attendees, although we are still narrowing our numbers. The time frame is 11am to 2pm. The setting is a rustic lodge near our home with lots of picnic tables and outdoor green space. The food can be set up inside and there is a kitchen so we will have access to a fridge.

With that many people, the cost of catering is out of reach, so we are going to do the food ourselves. We are considering doing either BBQ and sides or a taco bar. I like the taco bar because it can accommodate all sorts of dietary requirements and preferences.

My husband is not sold on the taco bar, so I told him I'd ask around for some feedback. Coincidentally, a local news program just featured a catering company that only does taco bars and they mentioned grad parties. (To do a tacos thru them would cost $10/person.)

Thoughts? Alternative ideas? Looking to make this as easy as possible!

Thank you!!

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We did something similar when our son graduated four years ago. We got a big aluminum pan full of charro beans, and a big aluminum pan full of mexican rice from a local restaurant. Very, very reasonable. Then we barbecued fajita meat, (chicken and steak) which we had marinated all night. We put out guacamole, tomatoes, sour cream, cheese, etc. with tortillas, and served buffet style. It worked great for people coming and going (as so often happens with grad parties), and worked well for vegetarians,etc.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 12:34PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I think it's a great idea...just be sure to have lots of other snack food around too so people can load up on other things too....chips and dips and such...

But that is a lot of work! Hope you will enlist the help of volunteers from amongst the guests so the entire burden isn't on you....or better yet, if you have people bring snacks and beverages, and you only do the taco thing, you'll be all set...

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 12:41PM
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Thanks for the comments. We will have some help on the food from my sisters and mother-in-law, and I like the idea of getting rice from a restaurant. That will help cut down on some of the work. It is going to be a big job, but I think it will be fun. Any other ideas are welcome!


    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 2:49PM
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We are having our third this summer. For #1 we had breakfast, did it early before graduation.Cheesy eggs/coffee cake/fruit/juices. For #2 we did an ice-cream bar. Vanilla and every topping or fixing you could think of--build your own. For this one we are going Americana and will grill up burgers and Hot dogs, potato salad and root beer floats. The "go to" menu in our neck of the woods is loose meat sandwiches (pork) fruit, pasta salad. A few do Taco bars. I think anything different is always appreciated/remembered. Don't sweat it too much. Have fun with it. It should be a happy fun day!!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 8:48PM
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I think the taco bar is a great idea. All ages should love them. The only suggestion I have is to have both corn and flour tortillas and some crispy and some soft. If you plan to have a pan of rice, lots of people here love the refried beans too and those should be inexpensive to purchase from a restaurant.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 9:45AM
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Will you have any older people there? I know my mother who is 84 would not be happy as she has never eaten a taco in her life. I don't think my other elderly relatives have even eaten anything like that either. If I did a taco bar I would have to have other foods, too.

We are also having a graduating party this summer. We are having it "catered" by a chicken BBQ place. You have to pick everything up yourself. The cost is like $6.70 per person (Good to go packages - 35 person minimum. ü bbq chicken, roast beef with as jus (cold),
pasta with meat sauce, augratin potatoes,
tossed salad (dressing & whole tomatoes on side),
wecks, parmesan cheese, horseradish and ketchup.

I can't make stuff that cheap. I will add some family favorite side dishes such as mac and cheese and fruit salad. A few years ago for my DS's party we made everything and it cost about $600. So far with this one it will be much less.

Also, it sounds like a nice place for the party. I would think people will stay longer than 2 pm.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 7:35AM
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I would vote for mini loose meat sandwiches, chips, sides and cake just because it could be made ahead of time, put out and done. I love tacos but Debra makes a good point about older people. My mom would never have eaten one either. Also, I would envision it being a mess with little bits of lettuce and cheese scattered everywhere. I think you should have something where you put it out, stir it once in a while and you're done to enjoy the celebration. Just be sure to have your son or daughter's favorite sides or snack item, even if it doesn't "go" with everything else. It's about them after all.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 9:02AM
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JaneJune, your party sounds fun, but aren't you injured as well? Food for 200 is a lot..keeping the meat hot and all of the sides cold/covered will be quite an undertaking.

I think for that many people I'd consider grilling with lots of homemade sides. I know in my family everyone loves to bring things. You could hire someone to do the cooking, making that part a little easier. I've done that in the past and it just takes that much of the edge off.

Or cold sandwiches are also fine with all of the sides and stuff. The main thing is that your grad has fun and you don't torture yourself.

I wish you luck! Let us know what you end up planning.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 8:34AM
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I just saw this article on Huffington Post about pre-grilling meat. Even of janejune doesn't go that route, it's interesting for anyone hosting many people.

Here is a link that might be useful: Brilliant grilling trick

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 9:05AM
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Thanks for the additional thoughts and comments. It hadn't occurred to us that our older relatives may not enjoy tacos, so we will talk about that before we finalize the menu.

I like the grilling idea, as well as pre-grilling. If we go that route, we would definitely need someone to handle that piece for us, as we would prefer to spend time with guests. Loose meat sandwiches would be fine, too. I'm okay with cold sandwiches, but hubby is not for some reason.

We have the venue for only for a few hours, so people can't really linger. We have a reasonable amount if cleanup time after, but that's about it. If there is not another event after us, we can probably stay, but we won't know that until a few days before. It really is gorgeous so I know people will enjoy it. Would have preferred to have it at our house, but we live in a hard-to-find location and even with step-by-step driving directions in hand, our visitors usually call along their way. We would have to hire someone just to man the phone!

I agree that it is the grad's party and we will do everything we can to accommodate his desires with our time frame and budget. Step-son is pretty easy going and has told us whatever we want to do is fine. His mom has offered to pitch in, too, so I think she may be getting dessert and some decor.

Yes, Beth, I have a broken right ankle I am just now learning to use again. Hope to be walking (limping!) very soon. I will be walking *okay* but not great by the day of the party, so your point is well taken! My sisters have offered to help, so we are taking them up on that offer.

Thanks so much everyone!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 4:57PM
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