Afternoon birthday parties do not need an overabundance of food, especially if you plan to have a small gathering of people. When planning a menu for this time of day, think light snacks and other foods that are inexpensive to make and will feed everyone. Most people will graze during an afternoon party rather than expect a sit down meal, so plan accordingly.
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Allow your guests to create their own salad. Put out two to three different types of lettuce and containers of croutons, vegetables, black and green olives, even fruit such as orange slices or pears coupled with walnuts. Don't forget meat and cheese, but with a twist: prosciutto, roast beef and feta cheese. A variety of dressings both tart and sweet, such as a tomato vinaigrette and an Asian ginger dressing will top it all off.
Create a variety of finger sandwiches for your guests. Use different types of bread such as white, wheat and rye, and different meats like turkey, ham, salami and roast beef. Or for something a little different, stuff the meats into mini-pita pockets. Be sure to have condiments available for your guests, including hummus for the pitas.
Lobster roll is made of the fresh cooked meat of a lobster, tossed with mayonnaise and served on a baguette or small roll. You can make lobster roll yourself or order it from a seafood restaurant.
Lay out a variety of fruits for your guests to pick at. While slices of pineapples and oranges are good fruits to have on the menu, add some interest with sliced star fruit, ugli fruit and kumquats. Strawberries, grapes, kiwi and cherries are perennial favourites for a fruit platter. Put containers of plain of vanilla yoghurt out for guests to dip the fruit in.
Fondue is fun for any birthday party. Serve bits of chicken or other meat, potatoes and vegetables with a cheese sauce. Another option for the fondue is to melt chocolate and let your guests dip in strawberries, marshmallows and cookies to satisfy that sweet tooth.
Put ground hamburger or shredded chicken and taco seasoning in a crock pot to simmer. Set up a taco bar with soft and hard tacos shells, shredded cheese, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, black beans, corn, chunks of avocado and salsa for your guests to make their own tacos.
Instead of afternoon tea, serve afternoon tea punch. Make lemonade, but use hot tea instead of water, add fruit slices, chill and serve ice-cold in a glass pitcher. You can make this sparkle by mixing it with ginger-ale.
The standard birthday cake is likely too heavy for an afternoon party, so go light with pretty petit fours in individual paper wrappers, or ever popular cupcakes. You could also serve small slices of angel food cake and banana pudding in martini glasses garnished with fresh berries.
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