Cobb salad recipe with table decor, and table setting for lunch party

How to Host the Perfect Lunch Party for your Girlfriends

Anytime is a good time to be in the company of good friends. But summertime, in a garden, with beautiful flowers, sunshine, and warm weather, is even better! Last week we had the privilege of being spoiled guests of our friend, Midge. An invitation to her home is like a great big hug; warm, welcoming, leaving you feeling loved and cared for. I was amazed and inspired by how she spontaneously invited us the day before, yet still managed to prepare ahead and create a lovely and delicious meal. Can we all learn to do this? Let’s find out! Today I am sharing Midge’s winning formula for how to host the perfect lunch party for your girlfriends.

beautiful new, white kitchen design, white countertops, and white cabinets

Midge in her beautiful kitchen

Ingredients for the Perfect Lunch Party

Start with your wonderful friends, of course! Follow that with a flavorful but easy menu, because the beauty of this lunch party is how quickly it can come together. It’s all about artfully laying out delicious ingredients. Begin by combining fresh store-bought items, a few select prepared foods, pantry staples, and then narrow in on the best stores to meet your needs, as a result, you will be able to conveniently pick up everything in one shopping trip.

You will have fun putting it together, and your friends will be amazed at how beautiful it looks!

Table decor and table setting for lunch party

Keep it Simple and Plan Ahead

For me, narrowing down my menu is the hardest part. This is not a buffet, so just remember, less is more. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the different options you could offer your guests. Yes, you could spend days preparing an intensive meal, but the best way to truly enjoy yourself and your guests is to keep it simple. Midge’s table doesn’t look simple, due to the planning and presentation.Cobb salad recipe with table decor, and table setting for lunch party

Ideas for your Party Menu

Here are a few ideas, but use your imagination to make it your own.

Entree Choose one entree that does NOT involve cooking from scratch. This could be salad, sandwiches, quiche, soup or chowder, depending on the season.

Sides Select one or two sides, for example, fruit, a vegetable, a simple side salad, crusty bread, or perhaps muffins.

Desserts Next pick, one or two different desserts that you can purchase pre-made and you know are delicious. The options are usually abundantly found at your local bakery, grocery store or even Costco. Favorites include cookies, cakes, sweetbreads, ice cream, ice cream floats, or pastries. If purchasing more than one, vary the flavors and color for different preferences and visual appeal.

Beverages Lastly, select a few beverages. One strategy is to pick one special drink, consider iced tea, lemonade, sangria or a cocktail. Round out the selections with water (sparkling and plain) and coffee. Remember to keep it simple and minimize your time investment here.

A day or two before you host the perfect lunch party, decide on your table decor and set your table. Do your grocery shopping too, so all you need to do on the day of your party is “assemble” your food.
Cobb salad recipe with table decor, and table setting for lunch party

The Art of Assembly

Yes, Midge has all the skills for cooking and baking, but she is wise to choose when and when not to use them. What she chose to do for this party was the art of assembly. Fast, delicious and crowd-pleasing. This is a skill worth learning, and Midge has mastered it.

Since this technique is quick and healthy, it is also a great option for weeknight family dinners.

3 tier tray of desserts for hosting the perfect lunch party for your girlfriends

Channel your Artistic Side

We eat with our eyes first, so think about design, color, and texture when you assemble your foods. Just like Midge’s gorgeous garden, experiment with a good balance of color, a variety of food textures to create mouth-watering combinations. You may try to play with layering and stacking food for height or adding different garnishes. Try to have an item or two that delivers a pop of color, whether it’s brightly colored carrots, cranberries or sliced hard-boiled eggs. Grab a photo off of Pinterest for inspiration!

container garden and garden party setting

Midge’s Garden

The Salad Solution

The choice is yours, but choosing a salad as the main entree, provides endless options, flexibility for food allergies or special diets, and loads potential! The Cobb salad is a perfect choice, but there are so many classic salads to add to your repertoire, including the Caesar, Chef, Chicken, Chinese Chicken, Waldorf, Caprese, Tabouleh, Taco, Tuna and Panzanella, Pasta Salads … to name a few.host a garden party - red clematis and yellow petunias

Creating your Party Salad

If you do choose a salad for your main entree, select salad ingredients that hold up at room temperature. This will assure that foods will last the length of your meal or party. To mix it up and get creative with a traditional green salad, try including some of the following:

Salad Greens: Iceberg lettuce, watercress, endives, or romaine lettuce are wonderful options.

Protein and Meats: Depending on the type of salad, hard-boiled eggs, cubed chicken (no cutting needed by your guests), steak, ham, shrimp, or bacon would be all be delicious choices. You can easily leave this out for vegetarian guests.

Vegetables: The list is endless, but tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, asparagus, avocado, peppers, green or red onions, and chives are tasty options to make your salad healthy, and beautifully colorful.

Cheese: Find a good quality cheese that tastes great; shredded, cubed or crumbled. Ideas include Brie, Roquefort, Monterey Jack, swiss, cheddar, goat cheese, feta, Parmesan, burrata, mozzarella, blue cheese or Gorgonzola.

Nuts and Seeds: Including nuts and seeds is not essential, but it can add a delicate crunch, salty or sweetness to your salad. Maybe you already have these in your pantry; cranberries, raisins, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, or almonds.

Salad Dressings: Vinaigrette or creamy dressings tie everything together. No need for an elaborate homemade dressing; store-bought products can be delicious when chosen ahead. Select from a balsamic vinaigrette, buttermilk, bleu cheese, Caesar, ranch or olive oil, for starters. Having a few flavor options for your guests adds to the fun.

The easiest way to serve your salad is to have it pre-plated as your guests arrive, as Midge did. Have the table set with the food or store the plates in the refrigerator if need be. This frees you up to be relaxed and socialize, without worry.

water fountain in Wisconsin

Midge’s Luncheon Menu

Chicken Cobb Salad
Bread with Dipping Oils
Fruit Bowl
Dessert; Cookie, Lemon Loaf & Brownies
Drinks; Lemonade, Sparkling & Plain Water, Coffee
The perfect garden spot with Adirondack chairs

Host the Perfect Lunch Party Shopping List

Cobb Salad for 4:
Salad Greens
One Pound Diced Rotisserie Chicken
Shredded Carrots
Four Hard-boiled Eggs
Grape Tomatoes
One Cup Feta Cheese
Two Avocados
Nuts
Seeds
Assorted Salad Dressings

Fruit Cup for 4:
Bunch of Red Grapes
Four Kiwis
Raspberries
Blueberries
Blackberries

Bread Basket for 4:
A loaf of Crusty Bread
Olive Oil
Balsamic

Desserts for 4 or more:
Cookies
Lemon Loaf
Brownies

Beautiful perennial garden in Grafton Wisconsin

I hope you are now inspired to invite your friends or family over! A little more time for planning plus less time for cooking equals more quality time together to enjoy your VIPs. Isn’t that what life’s about?

Let me know when you host the perfect lunch party. Leave a comment below, or tag me @bebraveandbloom or use #bebraveandbloom.

xo,
Cindy

For More Information

SHOP for store info and links to purchase products
INSPIRATION for more project ideas
RECIPES for healthy recipes

 

Be sure to consult a registered and licensed dietitian, licensed nutritionist, or certified nutrition specialist if you have questions about ingredients and how they fit into your personal nutrition plan.

beautiful new, white kitchen design, white countertops, and white cabinets
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