For all you 20-somethings who still have lives… or for folks with older kids… here are some food-making party ideas. As in, during the party you cook as a group. These are a little more complicated than putting out cold-cuts for people to turn into sandwiches. Most of these are pretty inexpensive party ideas too so um, how about a money Monday post?
Pizza — As RAs we did this during finals week and we’ve had small parties/large playdates for our child starting pretty young (maybe 4 or 5?). We make the pizza dough (you could buy it instead), put out spaghetti sauce, shredded cheeses, and toppings. Folks assemble their own personal-size pizzas. We bake them. Relatively easy and even adults seem to enjoy it.
Cookies — you can make the cookies in advance and just frost (similar with cupcakes), or for older kids, you can have them help with cutting/shaping dough.
Sushi — we haven’t done this en masse but know people who have. We only have one sushi making kit, so DC1 has done it with a friend over, but not with more than one person. Seaweed, sushi rice, and fillings and you’re good to go. I bet you could make things other than rolls without more sushi kits.
Vietnamese fresh rolls — DC1 has done this with friends over before too. Similar to sushi, only you need a big bowl of warm water to soften up the wraps.
Wontons — We went to one of these in graduate school. The hosts had wonton wrappers, fillings, and egg-wash ready. Guests stuffed, folded, and sealed. The hosts cooked the filled wontons (in this case in a soup, but in high school I vaguely remember we deep fried them one time since I had a fryer and we didn’t have ovens or stoves).
Taffy pull/popcorn balls — I used to have taffy pulls at my birthday parties growing up. They are sticky and messy and fun, but kids do grow out of it I think. (#2 had this event THIS YEAR at a new year’s party and it was all adults doing it.) My mom would make the candy, then we’d let it cool enough to touch. Kids would wash and butter their hands and then pull the candy until it was stretchy and cool. Popcorn balls are similar, but with butter handed kids shaping sticky popcorn/candy into balls.
This is not cooking, but maybe is frugal: #2 just came up with the idea of a booze-trade party. “I have this two-thirds full bottle of gin I’ll never use.” “Cool, I’ll take it! A friend gave me this tequila and I don’t drink tequila, who wants it?” “I’ll trade half my six-pack for half of yours and we can both try them both!” “This bottle of vodka was in our freezer and my roommate moved out, it’s up for grabs.” “I need 3/4 of a cup of Grand Marnier for a dessert but I don’t want to buy the whole bottle, who can hook me up?” Doesn’t that sound great? Maybe? Or it could be just an exchange of weird foods that you bought for one recipe but you’ll never use the rest. Black rice? Fenugreek? Turmeric? (You should use turmeric though, it’s cool.) It cleans out your kitchen guilt-free!
Have you ever been to a cooking party? Cooking what?