Saturday, February 26, 2011

Valentine's Banquet

I think a lot of churches have a valentine's banquet each year; they all seem to vary slightly as to how nice they are and what they include.  Some are for the youth to bring "dates" to, others are put on "by the youth"  (really by their parents and youth minister) for the adults in the church.  The latter is what we have. My husband kind of lets me take control of the Valentine's Banquet.  It is always the Sunday closest to Valentine's day, and my goal is for it to be like attending a nice meal.  Sometimes I have some kind of theme.  This year, I wasn't quite feeling the theme direction so I just got some people to help me and hoped it would turn out alright.

So, a lot of people do this a different way, but here is what works pretty well for me.
1.  Find someone to decorate.  If I have a theme, I let them know what it is; this year I just told her to do what she wanted.  (She did an amazing job, by the way!)
2.  Pick out a menu early.  This year, we had brisket so I asked a man in our church who smokes meat to make all of it.  I have no idea how many pounds it took; or I would help you out.
3.  Have some kind of sign up so you can start planning how many tables to set up and how much food to prepare.  We had 42 sign up; I planned for 60 (You have to feed the workers too).
4.  If you can cook it ahead of time; do it.  Ex.  I made the dessert the day before (as seen in my apple pie post)
5.  Be realistic when planning your menu, you cannot realistically make lobster and make any money off of this deal.
6.  Rotate your help.  I had 3 people other than myself helping in the kitchen, all completely separate from the people who helped last year.  This keeps parents from getting burned out and allows them to enjoy the banquet from time to time.  I'm still waiting on the year when the parents want to throw it completely and let my husband and myself set out. (Just kidding, but really that would be awesome.)
7.  Don't feel the need to get into some kind of routine and make it the same - versatility is great!  On the same note, it is ok if you have some staples like we have the "Not so Newly Wed" game every year.
8.  Remind the students of the proper etiquette for serving and ushering.
9.  Have a menu on the table and include instructions for leaving a donation, if they wish. I also leave some kind of chocolate at each place; just to make it look a little nicer.

So, pretty much here's how it went down.  The boys usher the people in and seat them at their table.  Serve them drinks first.  Once pretty much everyone is there, we started salads.   After salads were done, we started the main course.  I'm an over achiever, I plate it nicely and buy parsley so it looks like I spent a lot of money on the meal. ( I only spent $120 to feed 60 people this year!) We have very talented youth, so we had kids singing or playing the piano throughout the meal.  After everyone was done, we served dessert then had the game.  I had these great plans to take wonderful pictures so you could see just how fabulous and eloquent the meal was; so just imagine the nicest meal you've ever had and realize it probably wasn't that great; but hopefully pretty close.  I got busy in the kitchen, took a picture of the garlic I roasted for the mashed potatoes and that was the end of it.  I would love to hear about your church's valentine's banquet, so I can steal some of your ideas!

Here's a shake down on how much food I cooked.
I made the Pioneer Woman's Garlic Mashed Potatoes - I don't want to steal her thunder so feel free to look up the how to's on her website :
I think he planned for 4 oz. uncooked meat per person
I used 30 lbs of potatoes
2 1/2 pkg cream cheese
4 1/2 sticks of butter (not margarine)
6 heads of roasted garlic
salt and pepper
the recipe calls for cream, but I didn't need it in mine.
The whole process from cutting potatoes to being done took about an hour, I recommend mashing by hand - it's a little more work but they turn out much better.  I kept them hot in one of those huge roasters.
3 cans of green beans
1 lb. of bacon
15 cans of crescent rolls
4 heads of lettuce
2 pkgs of spring mix
3 pkgs of baby spinach
3 bottles of salad dressing (3 different kinds)
3 bottles of barbeque sauce
And all of the apple pie from the previous post!

Maybe you could plan a banquet for your church!  Seriously, I would love to know how you do similar things; whether at your church, or home, or school, or work...

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