Generating food ideas for a large party may seem like a daunting endeavour and an overwhelming task at first. However, if you break down the large party food ideas into the different food courses--appetizers, main entrées, side dishes and desserts--then generating the food ideas for a large party is easier than you might think.
It's important to have some appetizers for your guests to enjoy with their beverage before the main entrée and side dishes are served. For a casual party, include crisps, pretzels, nuts and a vegetable and dip tray. For a football party, wings make a good appetizer. If you are having a more upscale party, include shrimp cocktail, baked Brie, olive spread or a fruit plate with dipping sauces of yoghurt and chocolate. A black bean and corn salad is a colourful dish that will add to the aesthetics of your buffet table. Other appetizer ideas for a large party include miniature wieners in sauce, stuffed mushrooms, crab or artichoke dip and meatballs. It's a good idea to have some smaller snacks already at the table while also having a buffet table for the larger appetizers.
The main courses will depend on the type of party. For a sports party such as a football party, a large crock pot of chilli is easy and filling for your guests. For the healthier crowd, go for turkey chilli. If you have vegetarians in your guest list, a separate crock pot of vegetarian chilli offers a nice touch. Be sure to include a side of cooked elbow macaroni for your guests to enjoy with their chilli. Garnishes should include sour cream and cheddar cheese as well as crackers. Chicken is also a safe bet for the main course for a large group. Fried chicken is a good choice, as is stuffed chicken. If your party consists of a number of children, including a tray of chicken tenders will be a hit. Turkey, roast beef and ham also are good choices. The important thing to note is your main course should include protein, whether it is beef, chicken, turkey, pork or seafood.
A good rule of thumb for side dishes is to include starches and vegetables. Baked rigatoni is a standard for large crowds and can be made ahead of time. Just be sure to add a little water about an hour before serving, as rigatoni can dry out. Another good starch is potatoes. Depending on your main course, try mashed potatoes or roasted potatoes. Pierogies can be a unique side dish for a large party. Rice pilaf is a nice accompaniment to most meals. For a cold starch side dish, try potato or macaroni salad.
Don't forget about the vegetables. For a more upscale party, you can make bacon wrapped roasted asparagus. You can also prepare a vegetable medley of steamed carrots, cauliflower and broccoli or have single hot vegetables trays of corn or green beans.
Desserts can be the easiest to put together for a large party. If the party is celebrating an event, a large sheet cake is a must. Ask if your bakery does cake stencilling. You can get decorated cakes with stencils at many bakeries. This offers personalisation and is a conversation piece. If you are not having a cake, cookie trays with a variety of cookies is a safe bet. For a casual party, the famous "dirt" dessert is easy to make and usually hit with both children and adults alike. See the Resources section for a video recipe of the Dirt Dessert.