How to plan a party – Part 6 “Birthday Party for 16”

Yesterday was the final day of the 5 days of entertaining and my aunt’s birthday. As I have mentioned, my family is Syrian. It’s not often that the majority of the family can all get together at the same time, so it made sense to serve food that we all grew up on and loved. Obviously not everything I served was Syrian, but a lot of it was. One thing that is nice is that Costco now sells lots of this type of food so I don’t have to make it from scratch when I am pressed for time.


Mezza (Appetizers)




Grape Leaves


Meat Pies (Don’t ask, not giving this one up)

Shrimp Grits with Toast Points (This one either)



Drunk Chicken (Recipe Coming)

Garlic Green Beans

Corn Souffle

Noodle Rice

Fatoush Salad (and this…not happening)

Grilled Peaches


Lemonade Pie (Recipe coming)

Since I had been busy with cooking for other parties over the last several days, I couldn’t really do a lot of prep in advance for this one. I wasn’t worried though. The lemonade pies were made about a week ago and that was all that I really needed to do. I knew I was going to have a lot of extra hands if I needed it, and at this point, anything goes!!

The Family came over around 12:30. I had put out the tabuleh, hummus, pita, olives, nuts, and the meat pies. Those were made in batches so as they were ready, I replenished the plate. My sister was busy making the shrimp grits. It wasn’t until later that I realized that I had forgotten about putting out the grape leaves. Oh well…lunch for me next week.

The goal was to eat dinner around 7:30. I took out the ribs and chicken to prepare them around 4:00. I will be honest and say that my sister was in charge of the chickens! When the chickens were about 45 minutes from being done, the corn soufflé went into the oven and the rice was made. Did I mention that I forgot green beans for the garlic green beans? Well, at this point, we decided that we were done with making last minute store runs and the salad would double as the “green vegetable”. See, everyone has to improvise!!

Once all of the meat was off the grill and resting, the peaches were grilled and the salad was made. The soufflé was out of the oven (well, one was…the other wasn’t quite ready) and the rice was put into a serving dish. The meat was carved and sliced and the peaches were ready! Dinner was served!! By the time everyone was ready for seconds, the other soufflé was done. Another success!


1. Expect the unexpected. Things will go wrong. Don’t let it ruin your party.

2. Don’t freak out if you forget something. You can always improvise if you can’t (or don’t want to) get back to the store.

3. Your guests won’t know (or won’t care) what you forgot. They will be happy just being at your house and eating your food!

4. Be flexible and allow for help if you need it. I know some of you are laughing at this one thinking that I am neither flexible nor allow for help.

5. When you do have to go back to the store, just grab some more milk, even if you think you won’t need it. You will.

6. Ice, Ice, Ice!! Unless you have a REALLY good ice maker or separate ice machine, pick up a 10 lb. bag of ice to keep in the freezer. You will use more than you think.

7. If you are feeling stressed, just pour another beverage. It makes everything better (just like bacon).

Want to see more of this series? Here are the other parts:
Part 1 Original
Part 2 Getting Organized
Part 3 Baconfest
Part 4 Dinner for 13
Part 5 July 4th Dinner


  1. Tara says:

    Great time and amazing food!!

  2. P.A. says:

    It was a fabulous weekend full of delicious food and family fun! Thanks a million, Denise.

  3. Barbara says:

    I can attest to the fact the last two days were full of phenomenal food, special family time and loads of fun.
    Your grateful Aunt thanks you.

  4. Dina says:

    Best ribs I’ve every had. And, as always, best company I could ask for. Thanks again. Amazing weekend.

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