Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Entertaining with Kathi Newspaper Column For November 5, 2008

(The Entertaining with Kathi column runs in the Northeast Chronicle of The Tallahassee Democrat newspaper.)

Event PlanningTakes Skill
By Kathi Dameron

"Six bucks for a loaf of bread? You've got to be kidding!" My inner voice scolded as I doled out the bills from my slim pocketbook and handed them to the cashier.

"Ouch! Why am I doing this?" I agonized. But I knew this was the only halfway decent loaf of bread for 12 miles.

"Well, it does have chunks of roasted garlic in it," the cashier offered in response to my quiet, but apparently very visible, non-verbal sticker shock.

I knew I could bake my own loaf for a fraction of the cost. But it was already past the dinner hour and my tummy was rumbling for a quick bite — just a simple sandwich would do, except I had no bread in the kitchen to make this simple sandwich.

With today's economy, everyone seems to be feeling the pinch in the pocketbook. Our weekly grocery store receipts are often double, if not triple what they were a few years ago.

The need to become smarter and savvier at stretching a rapidly shrinking food dollar without forfeiting quality is essential.

I have always been a fan of semi-catered parties. Semi-catered parties are cost efficient, empowering and to those who are fairly proficient in the kitchen, they offer the best of all worlds.

Just between you and me, even as a caterer, when I host my own parties I use these strategies, too.

How To Do A Semi-Catered Party

1. Spend some time thinking about how you want your party to unfold from beginning to end. A party is like a theatrical production of sorts.

2. Make a list of the type of foods that you would like to serve at your party. Determine which of these foods you would be comfortable preparing yourself. Ask yourself this question: "Can some of these foods be prepared in advance and frozen?" Then set up a baking or cooking schedule that you can do in your free time.

3. Select some specialty dishes that you would like for a favorite caterer to prepare. When you contact your caterer be very specific about what you need. Keep in mind that the fewer services you need from the caterer, the more money you'll save. For example, can the sodas. Do you really need a caterer to bring in sodas when you can buy the soda at a significant savings yourself? Figure out what things you absolutely want help with and splurge on those things.

4. Ask a family member, friend or neighbor to help you. It is amazing what can be accomplished with a couple sets of willing hands. Be willing to reciprocate. The idea of semi-catered parties extends far beyond the holidays.

If you work this semi-catered strategy right- you'll never have to shell out six bucks for a mediocre loaf of bread. You'll have your very own sliced or un-sliced loaves of delicious home-baked bread in your very own home freezer, ready to be thawed on a moment's notice.

Kathi Dameron is a professional caterer and event planner. She owns Canopy Rose Culinary Arts Studio and Catering Company. Please visit her on the web at she can be reached at 539-7750 or at

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