Dessert for a post funeral gathering?

ArabellaMillerSeptember 13, 2010

One of my closest friend's had her mother pass this morning. She's a single mom, 4 kids, few relatives but tons of friends. No wake, just a service in the church then the cemetery. I've agreed to go to her home after the funeral, skipping the cemetery, to set things up at her house for all those coming back.

I'm having most of the food catered: wraps, salads, soups, some hot dishes, but I'm organizing her closest friends to help out by making desserts. I'm sure there will be some standards like brownies and cookies, but any other suggestions? I think it's going to be well over 100 people by the time we are done. Coffee and tea for sure, should I get wine? Is it normal for people to drink after a funeral - it wouldn't be in my family, but I don't know about others...

My head is spinning right now trying to wrap it around everything I need to pick up, along with my kids' schedules and my own, and my heart is breaking for my friend and her kids, so I'm not thinking very clearly.

Any suggestions?

AM

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sushipup1

Yes, I would pour wine, maybe even beer. Ask your friend about whether many people would drink. She'll know.

What about a 1/2 sheet cake from Costco or another bakery? The least amount of work, the better.

My deepest condolences to your friend and her family and you and all her other friends.

A gathering like this will usually have a lighter feel to it than the services. People loosen up, and visit and share memories. It doesn't have to solemn, people have already been doing that.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 8:48PM
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lindac

AAH....Arabella I am sorry....it's often very hard to be the funeral reception hostess when you your self are mourning. But frankly it helps to be helping.
It's a "ministry" a kindness a "mitzva", a blessing to do what you are doing.

My advice is think bars...squares, things like lemon bars, blond brownies, raspberry bars apple squares, pumpkin bars etc. Things that don't need a plate and a fork are good....but you can also put bars on a plate. I find that with cookies and bars, people don't think about "having seconds"....they just grab another cookie or a bar. It's not as much a commitment as a piece of cake or a piece of pie.
And wine would be very good....it eases the ache and it's friendly as well.
And another thing I have discovered is kids like bottled water. If you have a number of teens standing around not knowing what to say, a bottle of water in their hands acts much like a glass of wine does for adults. I don't normally condone buying water in plastic bottles, in this case, it works.
Good luck! It's not always easy....
If you need recipes, shout I have a whole file.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 8:55PM
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caliloo

I don't have much to add... But I am sending my condolences to your friend and her family and hugs to you for being such a good friend to her.

Alexa

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 9:14PM
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spacific

Agree with items that can be eaten without plate and fork. How about quick breads? lemon zucchini, banana nut, cranberry orange?

As for wine... ask your friend for the family's preference. I've attended post-funeral gatherings that have been from simple cake and coffee to full luncheon and complete bar with mixed drinks and everything in between.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 9:28PM
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teresa_nc7

Ask a friend to bring a big platter of cut up fruit for those who would rather not have a sweet dessert. I think an un-iced cake like a pound cake is good to have a) because it is plain and not chocolate and b) it can be sliced very thin to go a long way.

Bless you, AM.
Teresa

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 9:34PM
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bbstx

The following cake is from _Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting the Perfect Funeral_ by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays. It is delicious - moist and tasty!

Ingredients
1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
1 small (3.4-ounce) box and 1 large (5.9-ounce)
box chocolate pudding mix
4 eggs at room temperature, beaten
1 cup oil
1/2 cup Kahlua
1/2 cup vodka
1 container store-bought chocolate-fudge icing

Preheat the oven to 350°.
Combine, in the bowl of your mixer, the cake mix,
chocolate pudding mixes, and eggs. Mix until creamy.
Add the oil, Kahlua, and vodka, and twirl around until
there are no lumps. Pour into a well-oiled bundt pan
(8-cup size) and bake for approximately 45 minutes.
Take it out of the oven and allow it to sit a minute, and
then flip it out onto the plate on which you intend to
deliver it. While it is still piping hot, open the can of
store-bought chocolate fudge icing and spread it on the
cake. It will melt into the cake and the result is celestial.
By the way, this is wonderful with home-made cinnamon
ice cream, though that would be too cumbersome
to transport to the bereaved.
Serves twelve

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 10:07PM
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lindac

If you will have 100 people coming back to her house after the service....you will want things that can be served easily and eaten standing up. I would seriously reconsider things like soups and salads....think wraps, sandwiches, cookie bars and perhaps plates of veggies and finger fruits, like grapes and apple wedges.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 10:12PM
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jojoco

AM, I did exactly what you are doing last month when an extended family member died. I stayed at the house and coordinated a meal for 100 afterwards. Think crockpots, spiral ham, pasta salads, baked ziti...I made lemon bars , a few summer tortes, and peanut butter squares and others made other desserts. We had wine and beer. Post it notes were my best friend as I started at the time when guests would arrive and worked backwards. I had notes on each dish as to when to turn it on (crockpot) when to preheat the oven(s) and when to put it in. We had tiki torches (and a note to light them 10 min prior to guests)...you get the idea. I even put notes on the buffet tables where to place each dish.
It went seamlessly. My cousins walked into a wonderful party and didn't have to do a thing.
My condolensces, by the way.

Jo

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 10:23PM
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lakeguy35

Sorry to hear about your friends Mom AM.

One thing some forget about is ice. Have someone bring several coolers full of ice for whatever kind of cold drinks you are serving. Here is a wonderful bar recipe from Woodie that my group loves.

APRICOT BARS
Prep: 15 min. Bake: 45 min. + cooling
Source: Olga Wolkosky of Richmond, BC
(Taste Of Home magazine)
2 cups vanilla or white chips, divided
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup apricot jam
1/2 cup sliced almonds
In microwave, melt 1 cup chips; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in melted chips and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour. Spread half of the batter into a greased 8 inch square baking dish. Bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Spread with jam.
Stir remaining chips into remaining batter. Drop by tablespoonfuls over jam; carefully spread over top. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into 9 squares; cut squares in half diagonally, to make triangles.
Yield: 1-1/2 dozen

I've doubled this recipe and made it in a 9 x 13 inch pan.

David

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 10:34PM
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lindac

Oh yeah....and extra toilet paper....or at least check the supply!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 10:48PM
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ArabellaMiller

Great suggestions everyone, thanks. I'm baking today, probably:

blondies
cream cheese brownies
bbstx funeral cake
David's apricot bars (but I may sub raspberry, since I have a jar)
fruit platter (great idea)

I'm going to ask a few other friends to make additional desserts and just wing those.

Jo, do you have a lemon bar recipe for me?
I'll definitely get the wine and beer on everyone's suggestion, thanks for the input.
And ice and toilet paper - I NEVER would have thought of that!
And post it notes! Her cleaning lady will be there all day to help out, so at least there will be two of us setting up.

I may pick up some magazines/books/games for her kids. They're 10 - 15, but may like some distraction after a long morning and a reason to escape to their rooms for a bit.
Selfishly, it's nice to feel a little useful at a difficult time for a friend.

AM

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 8:11AM
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jojoco

AM,
Here is the recipe I use. I double it and do it in a 9 x 13 pan. I also go about 28 min instead of the 25 listed.

Glazed Lemon Squares

Crust:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter

filling:
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp lemon rind

Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs melted butter

Combine flour, powdered sugar and salt in mixing bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into greased 8 inch square pan. Bake at 325 for 15 minutes. Mix filling ingredients and spread over baked crust. Return to oven and bake at 325 for about 25 minutes. Cool. Blend glaze ingredients until smooth and frost. Cut into squares.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 8:20AM
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annie1992

AM, it looks like everything is under control, so I'll only offer my condolences, I'm so sorry to hear about your friend's mother.

In addition to ice and toilet paper, I've had friends bring coffee, cups for drinks, plates and forks, etc. No one ever seems to think about it and leftovers can be used by your friend's family. Do you have a large coffee pot? A pot of coffee seems to go quickly here, but perhaps with the addition of alcoholic beverages it might not be as popular.

I agree with the cookie and bar type desserts, something not messy and easily consumed with or without a plate and fork.

It would be nice to have something for her kids to do too, while the adults are otherwise occupied. You are a good friend for doing this for her.

Annie

I am surprised at the number of people who have alcoholic beverages at funeral dinners/luncheons. I've never heard of it, nor been to one that has had alcohol available.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 10:14AM
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Teresa_MN

I also think wine and beer is not out of place. Depending on how your friend's mother died it is a good way to unwind; particularly if it was a long drawn out illness. And people loosen up and remember the good things about the person.

My 22 year old brother was hit by a drunk driver. He had head injuries and was on life support for over a week before they told us he was brain dead.

It was a really stressfull period and unwinding after the funeral was just what we needed. One of my aunts and a neighbor tried to discourage it, but in the end, joined us with a glass of wine. It turned into a really happy gathering for a really tragic situation.

It was 30 years ago this past June. And just to tell you how far drunk driving laws have progressed. The man that hit my brother got a $125 fine and 30 days in the workhouse, which was stayed.

Condolences to your friend on the loss of her mother.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 11:15AM
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cynic

Add my condolences on the loss and kudos for the kindness of helping out.

I agree with bar cookies, brownies, bars, etc, fruit slices (maybe apples with caramel dip), and though cake is such a traditional item, cupcakes would be far easier to deal with. Maybe mini cupcakes, donuts, donut holes or mini muffins? Even the cliche Rice Krispie Bars are still popular. Don't hesitate to buy things to make it easier and helpers can certainly buy things too to spread around the expense.

My one other suggestion is get a couple rolls of paper towels and/or towels set aside and ready for the eventual spill that so easily happens. Put a can of air freshener in the bathroom too. Some people will have upset stomachs and be rather embarrassed... need I say more? Oh, either a roll of paper towels in the bathroom or extra towels. Some people these days are rather careful about germs. Maybe even put out some hand sanitizer if there's some people very concerned.

The old adage, hot food hot, cold food cold! At our picnic last year I brought a sliced ham and took three disposable foil trays. In the bottom one I placed ziplock bags filled with water and frozen for ice blocks, then set the tray on top where I placed the ham, then used the third one as a cover. Worked great. You wouldn't need three, and might want to use nicer than foil trays but some ice under things is a good idea for some things. Crockpots, electric roasters, electric frypans all keep things nice and hot.

Extra wastebaskets with liners so it's handy to throw things away will save on mess and cleanup. A thermos or two, insulated carafes or something for coffee? Then you could have the pot running as needed if coffee is a big thing there, possibly some teabags and hot water. Simple things. Lemonade is also rather easy and refreshing.

Around here alcohol is very common with funerals. Often a cooler in a vehicle. We usually drink a toast to the departed.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 12:38PM
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ArabellaMiller

I just wanted to post a follow up thanking everone who responded to my post.

The funeral service was absolutely lovely and fitting for truly a fine, fine woman. The priest allowed quite a bit of personalization, which I understand is not the norm at least for this particular church. My friend gave a short, but beautiful speech that was very honest, funny and a wonderful tribute to her mother. The church choir was filled in with singers from my friend's singing group.

The plan was for my friend to order plenty of food for those returning to her house, around 50 - 75 was her final tally; another friend and I were organizing desserts from friends to bring.

Turns out there were over 100 people. More like 125 - 150. My friend said that relatives she hadn't seen since the last funeral 3 years ago showed up. She wasn't even sure who some of the people were. We ran out of the ordered wraps and salads very quickly. Her older relatives were NOT happy. We quickly put out all the desserts (enough to feed an army), so that pacified most. But after the food was gone many left quickly. Good thing we had loads of wine.

Another thing to note: we had lots of coffee and teas, but no "Lipton", only herbal and English Breakfast which was deemed too fancy.

After everyone left, we all sat down and had some wine and promised one another that when we get to be that age we would not give each other's kids a hard time for hosting a funeral without the correct type of tea.

On an upside, the Pomegranate Ginger Bites (posted on a separate thread) were a big hit. I got quite a few recipe requests from her relatives, and even saw a lady wraping some to stash in her purse! I hope she was a relative!

Thanks again for your recipies and your kind words.

AM

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 7:16AM
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katefisher

You have some great suggestions here so I really just want to support the above. I can tell you a few years ago a friend came over after finding out that back in Ohio one of her aunts had died. She was feeling sad and disconnected from family. Coincidentally I had just made a batch of chocolate muffins and returned from the store with groceries including a bottle of red wine. After a couple of muffins and some vino she felt a lot better. So definitely don't be shy about a little alcohol and my best to you, your friend and her family.

Kate

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 7:27AM
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lindac

And your story about running out of food is why I have lots of leftovers.
As an old Scotsman used to say..."better too much than too not"!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 10:16AM
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ArabellaMiller

I agree Linda! I was a little confused as to why she was ordering the sandwiches herself to begin with, but she was insistant. Our tradition is that other family members and friends send food to the immediate family so that they are cared for during the grieving process. I'm glad we took care of the desserts, there were plenty of those!

AM

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 7:50PM
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lindac

I am engineering a reception next Sunday for a dear friend who died...long gone from town...but this is "home" so the service will be here.
Her husband said..."maybe 65"....but I know better!! LOL!
I'll have food for 100 and likely some spare stuff in the freezer if the crowd looks to ba larger than 100.;
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 8:01PM
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lakeguy35

Sorry you ran a little short on food AM. LOL about the tea though. At least there was plenty of wine leftover. Thanks for reporting back....off to find the ginger bite recipe.

David

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 8:08PM
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annie1992

AM, I remember trying to get a cup of tea at the Starbucks in the Grand Rapids airport. they had herbal tea and Earl Gray tea and all types of flavored teas. I asked for "just tea" and was informed that only two people on the face of the earth drank "just tea", me and the Queen Mother! (grin) Now I make sure I have a small box of Red Rose teabags and a small can of Maxwell House coffee for those who insist.

Ihate to run out of food, you could have had all my bridal shower leftovers! At least you had plenty of desserts.

Annie

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 8:40PM
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