Welcome to my 10-part series “Planning the perfect Spanish theme party”. I’m covering party planning, food, drink, entertainment, activities, music, decorations, birthday parties, dance parties, and invitations and favours.
This is part 2: Food for your Spanish theme party.
Spanish food is for sharing
The paella originates in Valencia and Spaniards will tend to regard it as Valencian rather than a Spanish national dish. For those of us further away, it has become typically Spanish though.
It is the ideal party food as it’s perfect for sharing! Caterers specialising in big pan paellas for events and parties, can cook at your venue using their gorgeous large pans. Your guests can gather around the fire, the scents will add to the atmosphere and the experience will contribute greatly to the entire party.
When I performed at a 70th birthday party last year, I had first-hand experience with South-East England based caterer Paella Fella and can thoroughly recommend them! The food was delicious and the staff lovely. Be inspired for your own party by my case study of Jan’s fantastic 70th birthday party.
As if paella wasn’t enough, tapas are also ideal party food. They are small plates that were originally sold topping (Spanish: tapar) drinks in bars. You can serve them as starters, canapes or at that sweet spot at all-day events when people have just started being hungry again after a big lunch 😉
Spain isn’t necessarily famous for its desserts — to be honest I’m usually too full from the starters and mains to have any 🙂 — but you may have heard of flan, Crema Catalana or churros. It’s also a good idea to serve fresh fruit or fruit salads including Sevillan oranges, which incidentally are the secret of Paddington Bear’s marmelade recipe.
Your caterer will recommend what works best for your party or you can try this enticing list of Spain’s most delicious desserts by The Culture Trip for inspiration.
Meeting dietary requirements
It’s important that you ask your guests for the dietary requirements in your invitation. That way you can plan ahead. With paella and tapas it is then very easy to create a variety of options catering for all needs.
Paella is often cooked with chicken, chorizo and seafood, but it can also be done with just one of these, vegeterian, vegan or with other meats or fish. In my experience any paella will burst with flavours and satisfy your taste buds. Note that rice itself is gluten-free.
The good thing about tapas is that they are just small portions that everyone can combine to their liking, so as long as you provide a variety every diet can be served.
My top tips: One, label everything simply and clearly and, two, if anyone needs to be particularly careful, discuss this with the chefs and ask a good friend or master of ceremonies, who you inform ahead of the party, to accompany that person when it comes to dinner time. Of course, you can also do this yourself, but often the party host is so in demand that you might not have a moment to do this important task.
Catering, DIY or restaurants
Should you book a caterer, cook yourself or get family and friends involved, or book at a restaurant?
The answer has to be, ‘it depends’. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you/your family/friends love cooking?
- Have you cooked for this many people before?
- What is your budget?
- What is your kitchen and serving dish capacity?
- What is your work load other than planning your party?
- Have you got a good contingency in case anything were to go wrong?
- Do you feel more comfortable celebrating at home, in a professional venue or in a restaurant?
- Who can help you serve and clear the buffet? Will they be happy to be involved? (Often children love this.)
Answering these questions honestly and discussing the matter with friends and family will give you a good idea of what will work best for you. But when in doubt, it’s harder the larger the crowd 😉
I hope this post has wheted your appetite and helps you with your menu planning! Next week, I will write about drinks and last week I covered party planning. Stay tuned and let me know what’s on the menu at your party in the comments.
If you’re planning a Spanish theme party and are interested in booking Flamenco entertainment, then browse my shows and get in touch.
I love performing at birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, charity and corporate events.
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