We had a large number of people over last weekend, and although I was by no means calm and composed, I think I handled feeding and entertaining 50 people quite well. I love entertaining friends and family, and really don't mind putting the work into making a beautiful spread. If it wasn't so darn expensive, I'd do it a whole lot more often!
My mother has always loved to entertain (as does my grandmother), so from an early age I was taught to put pretty napkins in bread baskets, never serve food out of a store-bought container, and how to make radish roses. You know, the important stuff. But seriously, a little bit of decorative kale on a homemade platter goes a long way.
One of my favorite platters to construct for parties is the fruit platter. There are so many gorgeous colors to work with and such fun things you can do with them! I've put together a little list for those of you who are fruit platter-challenged, or just want some new ideas to shake up your regular routine.
#1. Think about colors
Fruits naturally lend themselves to this. Just think about all your favorite fruits and the multitude of colors they come in. Choose fruits in a variety of colors and disperse them throughout the platter. There should be big blocks of color, with contrasting colors next to each other. Let the colors of the fruit be your palette and paint away!
#2. Use all parts of the fruit – even the inedible parts!
Rinds, shells and stems can make some of the most interesting presentations. If you're using a pineapple, chop off the top and use the leaves as a centerpiece. Or, hollow out the bottom of the pineapple – leaving all sides intact – and fill with berries or nuts (picture).
For watermelon, you can hollow out the bottom and fill it with melon balls or other fruit. To get really creative, carve the watermelon to look like a basket with a hollowed out bottom and a "handle" on top.
#3. Cut fruit in bite sized pieces
Melon balling can be a pain in the butt, but it looks so nice when all the fruit is roughly the same shape. If you don't have the patience or aren't using melons, make sure your fruits are cut in bite sized pieces. This makes it easy for guests to scoop up what they want without worrying about cutting.
#4. Use a platter with a lip or ridge
Fruit is juicy, which is why we love it, but it can also be very messy. Make sure you use a platter that has a tall enough lip to catch any escaping juices. This is especially important if you are transporting or carrying the platter – the last thing you want is watermelon juice dripping down your front! This also helps the fruit stay in place without sliding around.
#5. Be adventurous
We all have classic fruit staples that we come back to, but trying new fruits can liven up your palate and your fruit tray. For example, if you've never had starfruit, try adding it to the bunch – its unique shape and interesting texture will have people wanting more. Always try new things – you never know what you might love!
#6. Be seasonal
The best tasting fruits will be ones that are in season and properly ripened. In the summer go for melons, strawberries and other berries. In the fall try pear and apples, and in the winter feature lots of citrus. Every fruit has its own way of telling you if it's ripe, so pay attention.
If you're grocery shopping ahead of time, take into account the days between buying and serving. Will it have enough time to ripen? Will it be overripe?
#7. Be creative
There are no rules with fruits trays, so let your imagination run wild! Get inspired by the fruits and their bursts of colors and let that guide your arrangement. Even using special fruit tools like a melon baller or a zig-zag fruit slicer can really jazz up a tray.
Think I've forgotten something important? Please share your fruit platter ideas and tips in the comment below!