Party Food Bars can be a great idea, but some of them are too complicated for your friends to enjoy. Here's four you should skip and what to do instead. #foodbars #partyfoodbars #partyfood #party #partyideas #food
Parties and Get Togethers

4 Party Food Bars Your Friends Secretly Hate

Party food bars are all the rage, and it seems like everyone is trying to one up everyone else with how “creative” their food bars can get. I was considering writing a funny post about a really ridiculous food bar, but you know what? I couldn’t find one that didn’t actually exist! Now, party food bars can be really fun. Who has ever turned up their nose at a nacho bar? No one! But, dear readers, I think it’s time we acknowledge that most people heading to a party aren’t thinking, “Gee, I really hope I have to make my own food when I get there!” There is one caveat to this, of course. If you actually are heading to a party specifically to make your own food – you know I love a good food competition, for example – then all these ideas are great! Otherwise, stick to nachos.

Party Food Bars you can Skip

1. Bloody Mary Bar

The Problem

I know what you’re thinking. But Beth! Who wouldn’t want to have a Bloody Mary at one of those fun brunch parties you rave about? Well, let’s think about this. How many of your friends claim they know how to make a delicious Bloody Mary? Two, probably, and one of them’s lying and the other one used to be a bartender. Ex-bartender friend is really going to hate it when he/she has to make Bloody Marys all day because you thought this would be a fun idea.

What to Do Instead

champagne bar

If you must serve Bloody Marys, do it yourself. Make up a mix that isn’t too spicy and provide some extra hot sauce, celery, and olives. Don’t make them guess how much tomato juice they need, and please don’t leave horseradish sitting around. No one knows what to do with that. If you aren’t set on Bloody Marys, I would suggest a champagne bar. No, it’s not a “mimosa” bar if you’re putting out champagne, orange juice, and cranberry juice. Cranberry and champagne is a poinsettia. Just saying.

2. Grilled Cheese/Pizza Bar

sliced pizza with cutter

The Problem

Grilled cheese and pizza bars have one major problem. They have to be cooked. If you’re going to create one of these party food bars (or something similar), you’re telling your guests not only do they have to decide what cheese and topping combinations might be delicious, they also have to wait around and cook it themselves. Or, even worse, you have to stand around cooking them all yourself. I guess that’s fine, if you want someone else to tell you how the party went. Of course, this is one of those that would be fun if the only purpose of the party was to cook, but otherwise it’s a hard pass.

What to Do Instead

Ever seen those cute mini grilled cheeses? Cook those. They’re delicious and everyone oohs and aahs at them. If you want to serve pizza, save yourself some time and just order pizza. There’s no need to stress yourself out over something that most people will eat from Little Caesar’s without a second thought. If the point is to let people feel creative, try a hot dog bar. If you have the equipment, a pasta bar might be fun, although I’d probably skip that one too just because of the cleanup. The point is the food already needs to be cooked. They can do toppings. With grilled cheese and pizza, that’s not an option.

3. Salad Bar

green salad with dressing container

The Problem

What are you, a Sizzler? Don’t waste your time on this. It’s not a time saver by any means; all those fruits and vegetables don’t cut and wash themselves, you know. Think you’re going to impress your vegetarian/vegan friends? You’re not. I was a vegetarian for three years, and never in that time did I walk into a party and say, “You know what this place needs? More salad.” There’s a million other things to serve vegetarians. It’s not that salad isn’t good for you, or even that it isn’t really tasty. It’s that it’s hard to eat standing up, and the more you add to it, the messier it’s going to be. Think you’ll overcome that by having lots of seating? It won’t matter. Someone always stands.

What to Do Instead

First of all, determine why you want to serve salad. Did you just want to impress people with your party food bars? Then pick anything else that’s not on this list. If it’s more of a health thing, regular fruits and veggies are fine. If you really, really love salads, then mix up something yourself with only a few ingredients and serve it as a side dish. People probably won’t overfill their plates with salad and drop lettuce all over your house that way.

4. Crepes or Crostinis Bar

crepes with orange slices

The Problem

Hear me out on this one, because I hear half of you screaming at me that these are so much fun and the other half screaming, “How are these possibly related?” So here goes. Crostinis and crepes are both delicious foods… if you know the correct combinations. Some of your party-goers absolutely will make beautiful crepes, whether sweet or savory, and plenty will make standard but tasty crostinis. The thing is, if they’re going to be making typical food anyway, you can do that for them instead of setting up pointless party food bars. There’s also this little thing called decision fatigue and you don’t need to add that to your guests on their day off. Plus, and I hate to say this,  but some people won’t even know what a crepe or a crostini is.

What to Do Instead

I would suggest you serve one or two types of crostinis that you make and be done with it. I really can’t see the point of having your guests make their own appetizers. If you’re doing brunch and you want it to be crepes, I actually think you can succeed with a crepe bar, but you need to tone it way way down. Either offer one obvious savory option, like egg and cheese, verse one sweet option, like raspberries with whipped cream, or offer two sweet options. Do not get crazy with this or your guests will start filling them up with nonsense. If you want to put a whole bunch of stuff out and let everyone go nuts, do a bagel bar, because everyone already knows what they like on a bagel.  The point is not to overwhelm your guests with options.

Well, what do you think? Have I been too harsh on these party food bars or this just the reckoning they deserve? Before you decide, remember this – I’m not talking about weddings, just your everyday party. Brides, you do whatever your little hearts desire on your wedding day, and don’t forget to eat.

Party Food Bars can be a great idea, but some of them are too complicated for your friends to enjoy. Here's four you should skip and what to do instead. #foodbars #partyfoodbars #partyfood #party #partyideas #foodParty Food Bars can be a great idea, but some of them are too complicated for your friends to enjoy. Here's four you should skip and what to do instead. #foodbars #partyfoodbars #partyfood #party #partyideas #foodParty Food Bars can be a great idea, but some of them are too complicated for your friends to enjoy. Here's four you should skip and what to do instead. #foodbars #partyfoodbars #partyfood #party #partyideas #foodParty Food Bars can be a great idea, but some of them are too complicated for your friends to enjoy. Here's four you should skip and what to do instead. #foodbars #partyfoodbars #partyfood #party #partyideas #food

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  1. Of these, I probably only ever have a salad bar but that’s because I’m picky about what is in my salad lol. I would not want to go to a party with any of the others listed though!

    1. Beth Davidson says:

      That’s totally fair – I just don’t want to eat salad at a party period!

  2. reesa says:

    I am loving your “instead” ideas. While I like bloody mary’s, I like ONE. And the idea of mini grilled cheeses? so cute!

    1. Beth Davidson says:

      Mini grilled cheese are seriously the best. I just had them at a Super Bowl party, and whoever made them did a fantastic job.

  3. These were very funny discussions of some very adequate bars and i do love bloody marys and salads but at a party they might not work. I love your alternative choices so smart.

    1. Beth Davidson says:

      Glad it amused you! Yes, Bloody Marys and salads are great – just not when I have to do it all myself.

  4. Great tip about the food that needs to be cooked. I went to a baby shower where 75% of the food was cooked to order omelettes and waffles. Never again! I’d certainly rather hit up a bubbly bar with a display of pre-made crostini

    1. Beth Davidson says:

      Are you serious? Someone was trying too hard.

  5. No doubt this si food for thought =) I love bloody marys so I would definitely include a bard for that another for simple drinks. Pizza bars are very popular unless you have a personal chef that is a good idea for entertaining at home so agree with the salad.

  6. I would love a bubbly bar! I think what I’m figuring out thanks to your expertise is that it’s great to personalize food & drink, but not make guests do too much work.

    1. Beth Davidson says:

      Yes, based on my social media accounts, people are really missing the point of this. If you’ve invited guests to a party, you don’t want them working, you want them enjoying themselves!

  7. Other than the salad bar I have never heard of any of these type bars. I truly need to get out more. that said I do enjoy a salad bar because I like adding my own choices to my salad.

    1. Beth Davidson says:

      Ha, it’s okay, you don’t need to know about any of these types of bars. If you pretend you’ve ever heard of them you’ll never make one! 🙂 I like salad bars too, but only at restaurants. I don’t want to be wandering around a party with a big fancy salad.

  8. LOL! I about died about the bloody mary bar. Yes. I know how to make a good one – and yes, I was a bartender. I stopped telling people at parties that because – no, it’s not fun to make drinks for everyone else. LOL. I do like nacho bars, though. I don’t eat meat and I would rather make them myself – but I am funny about my food.

    1. Beth Davidson says:

      Lol! I’m so glad you said that about Bloody Marys, I have honestly never met anyone who wasn’t a bartender that can make them! I love nacho bars too – that’s my absolute favorite one, and I wish people would just stick to them if they must do a “bar.” 🙂

  9. I’ve never heard of a party food bar before. I’m not sure I’d enjoy going to one or not. I’m kind of torn on the idea!

    Louise x

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