23 May, 2011  |   3 Comments

Advice, Advice French Picnic for Nell

There aren’t more things that I love than helping someone feel better about throwing a party. And in the comments on last week’s post, Nell asked for some ideas for throwing a party.

Specifics below:
Nell: …Have you ever thought of doing a reader submitted q&a? Such as, what kid-friendly main course can I serve to the 30 or so folks we seem to have invited for a casual dinner next week? (I’d do your BBQ pork on a bun but not everyone eats pork.)

Current ideas on the table include flank steak or mushroom tart. I wanted to do a kind [of a] French picnic theme with roast chickens, but my husband thinks it will be too messy.

The facts

Main course for 30
Not everyone eats pork
French picnic theme
Kids will be there

The recommendations

Menu options include
Chilled Cucumber Soup with Dill (Can sit out! Unusual! French!).
Paté (Made ahead by someone else).
French cheeses (Another purchasable).
Olives (Buy them, don’t make them).
Roast chicken could work, but I’d recommend buying rotisserie chickens — some farmer’s markets sell them as well
(Find someone else to make the chickens!).
Roast potatoes (Kid friendly! Serve with ketchup!)
Crudités – radishes, carrots and green beans. Bonus points for serving the carrots and radishes with a wee spot of green on the top (Color on the table, seasonal, healthy).
French bread warmed in the oven served with butter and salt (Crowd-pleasing.)
Mushroom tart (can be your specialty).
French wine.

But oh! The decorations!
The thing I like about a French Picnic theme is that the items for the party can be super-inexpensive and still look like you planned them that way.

Use canvas paint drop cloths for table cloths. Cheap, reusable — it rumples beautifully in the wash. We use our canvas drop cloths for furniture covers, pretend bridal veils and impromptu curtains.

Display generous bunches of rosemary in jars on the tables. You could also put little potted rosemaries down the table, but the kids might get into the dirt and cause a ruckus. As much as I love ruckuses, you might want to stick to the jars.

Use burlap — our local coffee shop usually has an extra bag or two laying around. Could be used as table runners, napkin rings or coasters.

Use galvanized steel buckets and bins to hold ice and wine and drinks.

Imported French wine on the tables can be a beautiful. Shop smart and it can be cheap too.

Nell, I fear I may have missed the date for actually influencing your dinner party, but if you or any other readers have any other questions about throwing a French Picnic Party, let me know! I want to make it easier for you!


3 thoughts on “Advice, Advice French Picnic for Nell

  1. 1
    Nell says:

    This is awesome — we’ve decided on something non-silverware intensive for this time, given the number of people, but I’m definitely doing this for the next party we have this summer. And I’m going to see if our local hardware store has canvas drop cloths. That’s the perfect solution.

  2. 2
    Helen Jane says:

    Thanks Nell, hooray!

    P.S. I’ve always been looking for a reason to invest in those perfect French linen napkins. I think tearing into some rotisserie chickens might be the perfect reason. Now *I* want a French Picnic Party!

  3. 3

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