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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

May 11, 2015 - 8:51am -- Anonymous

The graduation season is upon us and I’m sure if you have a graduate, the list of “to-do’s” is growing.  As the list is made, break it down into days or weeks before your event so that you are not so tired that you can’t enjoy the party along with your graduate.  Involve the whole family, allow them contribute their time and energy to make this event special whether it’s planting flowers, running errands, or helping to preparing the food. 

Planning the food is a challenge for everyone.  Please remember the food safety rule  is to keep hot things hot, above 140 degrees and the cold things cold or below 40 degrees.  Think creatively to keep your food safe see if any ideas below might help:

*Use a large item to put ice in that might fit into your decorations like a plastic kids pool or a canoe or even a clean large tub. Make sure all items are food safe and maybe lined with plastic to keep the ice clean.  

*For keeping foods cold, medium size containers placed in ice filled larger containers work well.  *When refilling the item, replace the bowl and the utensil, don’t just refill the bowl.

*It’s great to have help watching the food lines and someone in the kitchen to wash items as they are emptied and to keep an eye on when to replace food items. 

*Usually refrigerator space is at a premium.  Try using coolers or if you have close neighbors to use their refrigerator, help with the extra food items.  Keep extra ice on hand, especially if it’s a warm day.

*Oven space or larger pans can also be a challenge.  Before planning to use all large pans, will they fit in your oven? Roasters and crock pots work well, but remember to plan the outlet usage and how to avoid tripping on the extension cords.

*Consider a different location for the dessert or cake table that will not interfere with the food line. 

*Put beverages separately from the food at a location where the flow of people will be out of the line for those getting food or dessert.

*Remember to have plenty of trash cans and maybe even a re-cycling can for pop cans and water bottles. Don’t forget extra trash bags.

There are several web sites that help with planning food quantities like or just search for quantity foods.  In general they will all tell you that there are so many variables, like what time of day or in the case of Graduations, how many events your guests have been to.  That being said, here are a few additional suggestions to consider.

If serving a buffet, most people will taste everything, but have smaller portions than a regular serving size so round your estimations up not down.  Remember the more choices you offer the smaller quantities may be needed, ask input from others to see what they think the most popular items might be and make sure you have enough of those items. 

Have extra of filling items like salad or bread in case it’s needed. Have someone on “stand by” (a friend, neighbor or even a restaurant) in case the food is going faster than you anticipated to whip up a quick dish. Please remember, do not use home canned items for your guests.

If you have something unique like ice cream sundae’s make sure there’s plenty on hand for everyone. 

Check with the store where you are purchasing items to see what the return policy is on specific non perishable items.

The more planning put in place before hand, the more you will be able to enjoy the party.  Trade  with someone to watch the food line, take pictures, wash dishes or just to keep an eye on things so that you may relax and visit with family and friends.  These are important milestones in life, make plans to enjoy them with your graduate!