Hosting a bridal shower can seem overwhelming. But with a simple, easy-to-prepare menu, the task becomes much less daunting. The menu below is full of foolproof and delicious recipes—many of which can be prepared ahead of time or easily doubled to accommodate more guests.
If the group is large, consider having a buffet rather than a sit down affair. Whichever you choose, make sure you have enough seating for everyone.
As guests arrive, offer them a variety of beverage choices, such as wine, iced tea or Fresh & Fruity Punch served in punch or more formal footed-glasses.
For a sit-down lunch, especially a smaller, more intimate gathering, consider a first course of soup. Red Pepper Asparagus Soup is easy, light and a great way to kick off the celebration. Make it a day ahead and then just heat it before serving. The tarragon-flavored sour cream is a flavorful garnish definitely worth trying. Offer a variety of fresh baked rolls or wedges of crusty baguette purchased from your favorite bakery the day of the event.
Prepare platters of fresh fruit such as melon, strawberries, pineapple, grapes and kiwi such as Fresh Fruit with Lemon Cream for a buffet. You may want to add crudités such as cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, cucumber, green and red bell pepper strips, and celery. Offer these with a variety of dips that can be put together the night before, covered and refrigerated until serving. I recently attended a shower where the hostess had purchased an edible fruit arrangement as the centerpiece for the buffet table. It looked beautiful, and saved the hostess a lot of time.
Apricot Couscous Chicken Salad is a light salad recipe that works well for either a buffet or sit-down meal. The Middle Eastern spices combine with flavored couscous, apricots and chicken for a fresh main dish salad perfect for entertaining. And couscous only takes a few minutes to cook, making this an easy salad to prepare early the day of the shower.
To save yourself even more time, purchase a fully-cooked rotisserie chicken from your supermarket. The slow cooked flavor will greatly enhance the salad’s flavor. One chicken yields about 4 cups of chicken, once it is skinned and boned. This is also an easy recipe to double or triple, depending on the number of guests you expect.
Prepare and chop all the ingredients a day ahead. Mix them with the dressing an hour or two before serving. Spoon the salad onto individual serving plates or a serving platter that has been lined with butter lettuce leaves. Add fresh mint leaves for a perfect spring garnish.
Open gifts after the meal as guests enjoy tea or coffee and adorable sweet treats, such as Lemon Teacakes or Umbrella Cookies. Both cookie recipes can be decorated to match the bride’s chosen colors. Use liquid or paste food coloring for the perfect shade. I recently made the Umbrella Cookies for a shower. I decorated them with pink and green frosting and used coordinating colored straws. Both of these recipes take some extra time, but are well worth the effort. Make the cookies a day or two ahead, and store them in a tightly sealed plastic storage container. Serve them on a tiered tray, silver platter or your favorite china.
The bride-to-be will love and appreciate this unique menu—almost as much as you do. After all, it’s a simple, versatile menu that works for almost any special occasion. So chances are, when the next engagement is proposed, you’ll likely be the one to say, “I do!”