Tips and Tricks For Planning Your Next Party

Where to Donate Leftovers After Your Party

Where to Donate Leftovers After Your Party 0

In an earlier post, I recommended that you donate leftover food from your party to a local shelter, food bank or program instead of throwing it out or taking it home. You and your guests already had an amazing night, so why not make someone else’s night, right?

To help you on this very worthwhile charitable mission, below are a few sources to help you find a charity in your area. When looking at a charity’s website, the first order of business is to determine whether they take in-kind cooked food donations. Some do not. This information is usually under a tab called something along the lines of “Donate” or “Support” and then under “in-kind donations.”

Feeding America – Feeding America provides a list of food banks by state. You can also search by zip code.

Food Pantries – Food Pantries lists food pantries by state and provides contact information for each pantry.

Great Nonprofits – Great Nonprofits provides a list of homeless and housing shelters and charities located around the United States.

Homeless Shelters Directory – Through an interactive map, HSD provides a list of homeless shelters and service organizations around the United States.

Department of State – You can also check your state’s Department of State website. These often list charitable organizations in the state.

And if you want to research the charity before you make a donation, Charity Navigator is an independent charity evaluator.

If you know of any other good resources, please share them in the comments below.

Happy Planning.

How to Donate Food to a Charity After Your Party

How to Donate Food to a Charity After Your Party 0

It’s 1 am. Your guests are leaving after an evening of good food, dancing and general merry-making. The party was a success. All of your planning has paid off. But there is one more thing: the left over food. Maybe your caterer brought a little extra (as many do) to accommodate healthier-than-expected appetites or maybe your guests danced more than they ate. Whatever the reason, the kitchen is full of food. What should you do?

Some people ask their caterer to pack up the left overs for their guests to take home but we have another idea: make a charitable donation. There are shelters, food banks and non profit organizations that will take cooked food donations and their residents will welcome a change in their daily culinary pace. If this sounds like an option for you, read on.

A month or so before your party, call a few organizations in your area or ask your caterer if they already work with an organization. Ideally, you want an organization that will pick up the donated food on the night of the party from the party location. The next best option is for the organization to pick up the donated food from your caterer’s place of business that night or the next day. Of course, you’ll need to check with your caterer before you make this arrangement. Once you identify the organization, tell your caterer your plan, put them in touch with the organization to iron out the details and ask your planner to be the day-of point person for the donation. If the organization is tax exempt, don’t forget to get a tax deduction letter for your in-kind donation a week or so after the donation.*

Donating food is more convenient for you because you don’t have to take anything with you after the party, it’s better for the environment because the food is not thrown out and it’s great for the recipients (who doesn’t love delicious food). This is a true win-win-win.

Happy Planning!

*Of course, consult with your tax professional before you make any final arrangements.

BBQ Menu Guide for Parties

BBQ Menu Guide for Parties 0

Are you looking for a fun menu theme for the party that you're planning? Why not be inspired by all the BBQs that will happen this summer?

It's true that BBQs are considered to be informal events with friends and family in the backyard or park. However with a few changes to the classic BBQ menu, you can have a menu with a touch of elegance, but just as much fun as a family BBQ.

Here are some cool ideas that I love for a tasty BBQ menu:


There are a variety of classic, summertime drinks to consider for your BBQ-themed party. Lemonade and iced tea have always been favorites for BBQs. Shake up the ordinary and serve Tropical Fruit Punch, Rum Punch, Brazilian lemonade or iced hibiscus sweet tea.


The best part of a BBQ is the grilled food. If you are looking for creative options when compared to the standard fare, I suggest serving grilled lamb chops, grilled trout or grilled shrimp and fried sweet plantains. Another option is to serve "heavy" finger foods, such as Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce or Mini Crab Cakes with Remoulade.


A BBQ menu isn’t complete without savory side dishes. For an alternative to tossed salad, a great idea is to serve delicious Grilled Vegetables. Other side dishes like Grilled Potatoes and Macaroni Pie can be an appetizing addition to any event.


Make sure your party includes fabulous desserts at the end! You could serve vanilla panna cotta with mixed berry compote in beautiful cocktail glasses or green tea ice cream, the Asian spin on an American classic.

Do you have any terrific menu ideas that you want to share? Please comment in the section below. Happy summer party planning!

  • Melanie Martin
  • Tags: The Menu
How Much Does Catering Cost? Why a Caterer Can't Give You a Simple Price

How Much Does Catering Cost? Why a Caterer Can't Give You a Simple Price 0

One of the first steps in planning your party is to select a caterer. Since the catering costs will account for a significant part of your budget, around 50%, the first question you may want to ask is “how much will this cost?” Questions like “How much is a buffet with chicken for 120 people?” are tempting to ask even before the caterer knows anything more about your party. However, when selecting the caterer that is right for you, I suggest taking a step back and having a conversation with the caterer before asking them for an estimated price.

Here’s why: It’s very difficult for any caterer to quote a price without knowing more about your vision for the party. The number of guests, menu, service style, time of the day and location are just a few of the factors that will affect the final price. These details will give the caterer a chance to estimate the total price based on what you actually want rather than providing you with the general price off their website.

Keep in mind that the final price should not be your determining factor when selecting a caterer. Of course, the price is important, but so is a caterer’s ability to execute your event. Asking for references and pictures of their past work and seeing the quality of their linens and silverware are good places to start. It will give you a clear idea of what the caterer is capable of and what it would be like to work with them.

There is much information to be shared with a caterer about your big day and many good questions that need to be asked in the interview stage.  Once you’ve asked questions and the caterer understands what you’re looking for and you have a sense of the caterer’s ability, then look at the cost.

Happy party planning!