Feeding crowds at home

Over the years of being down here and hosting visitors for various meals at our home, there’s one thing I have gotten good at: feeding crowds of people. While having your entire family over for Christmas lunch, or a christening or birthday party can seem entirely overwhelming, if you keep it simple, you can feed lots of people, in your home, without you losing your shit. Promise.


While you can delegate to your hearts content, when people have to travel a distance to come to your place a salad will be looking a little sad by the time it gets to you. So try and flick things like nibbles at them to do. I follow some pretty simple rules when feeding a crowd of people at home for lunch or dinner.


Sometimes if we have less numbers I might just let the kids eat whatever it is we are eating and sit at the table with us – but more often than not though the kids will turn their noses up at salads and meat (because there are much more interesting things to do other than eat) and they inevitably go hungry. And have you seen what happens to kids when they get hungry? They get tired. And cranky. And the potential for a stray punch is high (especially when the kids are younger). So I try and create platters of food that will be demolished. I use this principle at kids birthday parties too. Platters of food, with things cut up (even vegetables) WILL get eaten. Something happens when kids are presented with platters of nicely cut stuff: it gets eaten. Every time.

So you name it. Lots of kids over for a play date? PLATTER OF FOOD. You can sneak as much good stuff on there as you want, while it will be left last, it will get eaten.


Check out this pearler of a platter that my brother in law put together for all the kids at Archie’s christening. I mean LOOK AT IT. Obviously because I have kids I had to go and oversee the eating of the platter and by overseeing I mean DEVOURING.


Needing to feed the kids something a little more substantial before the adults eat? We did this on Saturday night as we wanted to try and eat when the kids were either in bed, or watching a movie and so I fed them a staple I use every time that I KNOW pretty much every kid will eat: SCHNITZEL. Make some tenderloins or breasts, crumb them up and serve with a side of other veggies and you have happy kids. And happy adults because they may whack a tomato or piece of cucumber in when they see everyone else doing it too.

I also had a few extra kids after school last night and they stayed for dinner so I did something similar.


They ate the LOT.



I always start with platters of antipasto or cheese. You can ask people to bring the ingredients along and you can whack it together and it’s a nice way to get the tastebuds in action for the main event ahead. Just beware when my children are around because they will deadset eat ALL of the cheese and ALL of the olives. And pancetta. Just make sure they aren’t around is all I’m saying.


For the main event with a big crowd I will always do a big piece of meat, potatoes and salads. Not fancy, but tasty and able to be done before the crowds arrive. Slow roasted meat can do it’s thing, the salads can be prepped and ready to go and roast potatoes are easy.

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Or mix it up and throw the roasted meat and salad into a wrap!

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The main thing is to NOT stress. Keep it simple. As simple as you can and outsource whatever you can (nibbles/dessert). I never really worry too much about dessert for big crowds (some pre-bought cake or tray from a patisserie will do the trick) and a box of ice creams for the kids. There is always cheese left over from the start that you can finish with too.

I find that people are just delighted to be somewhere, with someone else cooking, that no one cares about what you are eating really. It’s the company and the memories that are being made that’s what remembered. Or maybe some really good crackle…that could be just my family though.

What about you guys?
Do you do much entertaining for big family groups or lots of friends?
What’s your go-to for lots of people?
Any recipes to share?


  1. Shazziebazzie says

    I have learned a lot from you about feeding crowds. Your deconstructed pumpkin salad is legendary and can be stretched to feed more with the addition of hummus, olives, more dips and stuffed baby capsicums. My tip for feeding a crowd is to glaze a leg of ham, serve with coleslaw and fresh bread rolls. An easy dessert is brownies and ice cream.

    • I love the glazed leg of ham as a crowd feeder too. It always feels more special when you do this outside the Christmas season. I like to go with a whole wheel (or big chunk depending on crowd size) of Brie, some taboulli and tomoatoes with basil sliced on platters and good quality rolls. People can either make world’s best ham, cheese and salad rolls or eat the components separately. It’s always a winner. Oh and a silver platter of mixed lollies is always a hit for dessert.

    • Love a glazed ham too – can’t beat it!

  2. I must save this post, as when I have people over with lots of kids I always forget and panic buy things that no one ends up eating!

  3. I did your lamb with pita tzatsiki and salad for Easter Sunday lunch . Followed by your lemon curd , with pav cream and blueberries . It all went down a treat . Cheers .

  4. I love a good roasted meat and veggies – everyone likes it – it isnt alot of washing up either and people can serve themselves and you can spend more time with your guest.

    I feed the kids early too 🙂

  5. Linda jenkins says

    Lots of great ideas Beth that I follow too. For a special event I also like to
    Think of themes in terms of styling the table even if it’s just a couple of colors that I carry through to platters, flowers , napkins etc. Your tables always look gorgeous I must say ! Apart from the usual gatherings we have another 21st and 18th to host at our place later this year which will be both a sit down meal plus a big friends party for both ! The planning has started already!

    • Me too – we have Rob’s 40th next month for 70. I’m outsourcing the food though – a bridge too far for me plus I wouldn’t get to enjoy any of it!

  6. I constantly feed the masses. I usually pick a cuisine for some reason. If it’s fiddly (Indian or Chinese) it usually means there are less people. If it’s easy (Greek, Italian, Trad Aussie or English etc, etc) it usually means there is 20+ mouths to stuff. Love the kid platter idea – definitely one to keep in mind as the number of grandkids increase (currently 3 with 1 cooking and 4 bonus older kids).

    It’s our son’s birthday on the weekend. 22 people – I’m doing an enormous roast beef with all the usual trimmings and rice pudding (cos he adores it). All will be served on platters on the bench – I always go for the self-serve option.


  7. I’m the stresser. Thanks for this. I’ll try it with the teen (who thinks junk food should be his staple), and his mates when they come over.

  8. Leanne Collinson says

    Hi, just letting you know how much I am enjoying your blog , I found it while searching for pickle recipes , and as promised they were a huge hit .
    White I am probably in you demographic ( 50 , with only one daughters and husband at home now ) it is a way to reminisce when the kids were little and the highs and lows of being a stay at home mum .
    I also love entertaining and have developed some easy meals for a crowd , a recent addition to our menu is Jamie Oliver’s slow cooked pork shoulder , great with roast vegs or serve as sliders with a fennel salad easy and delish.
    Hope your family stay healthy and happy .

  9. Chiquita says

    I cook for big fam get togethers, love me a slow cooked lamb roast, 8 hr Shane Delia is the best with Middle Eastern Ottolenghi salads/dips and YOUR deconstructed pumpkin as a starter with some pita.
    Dessert is usually a huge bowl of berries and vanilla ice cream or poached quinces and pears and then coffee and Turkish delight, halava and baklava rom my local Middle eastern grocer.

  10. Thank you so much for all that you share. I made your rolls today. Oh my goodness wow! Thanks for sharing. I even bought the bread improver. And I made “Anne” today. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Very inspiring!

  11. slow cooked mexican pulled pork is the best. you pretty much do a coleslaw, tortilla’s and any other vegies you want and the meat does its thing. most kids eat that also. if not, they get snags in bread! we don’t have people over often enough and would like to do more this year! most of the time its too fricken hot here to even consider it! love a big feast! changing the subject sort of, my kids eat more when we do family sharing meals, all in the middle and dig in.. rather than served out!

    • Hope you start to get cooler weather soon – we’ve had a change go through overnight and it’s a chilly 11 this morning!

  12. it all looks great beth!
    the girl knows how to cater to the masses!
    obviously you take after your mother!
    ab/fab! love m:)X

  13. We have similar food tastes. We love gravlax salmon or ocean trout as a nibble, with a loaf of freshly sliced rye or sourdough and some horseradish cream. Gravlax is so simple and can be started days before. I can’t help myself I Iove making a cake: but we have a few foolproof recipes that are easy and can be made ahead. A serious chocolate cake, or a caramelised pear and almond cake, chocolate Guinness cupcakes, or a pavlova.

  14. Such great ideas and images. Thank you. I find roasts daunting but I’m sure that is practice. I worry that it will all be cold by the time it gets to the table. do you make gravy?

    We do a big party for about 100 people once a year and I now find that really easy. It’s some work but I have lists and not know exactly what to buy and serve that will usually be eaten. the family also know the drill and can do the house rearranging, table setting mostly unassisted.

    There are always antipasto platters as you do. A few big wedges of cheese, one per board which looks spectacular with crackers, dried fruit etc.
    I make cheats sausage rolls as you do, bake them ahead and if it’s a few days ahead freeze them. Must be tiny for easy eating. I usually also do some party pies because who doesn’t love party pies. Sometimes meat balls make by sub dividing chevaps.
    A big glazed ham and about 60 pre split dinner rolls with mustards etc
    And a few bags of nuts that can be brought out if needed but keep fine if they are not, I no longer do dips, they get messy and are never more than half finished.

    As you said it is practice that makes it easy. first time is nerve wracking but make a list or 2 of what you did and bought and you have it planned for next time.

    I am quite new to your blog and loving it. Thank you. I feel a bit like I am stalking you but I guess that engagement is the idea!!

    • 100! Wow! I agree dips are a waste of time they are always left over – great tips thanks so much for sharing 🙂

      • It is pretty much the only entertaining we do in the year. Too many hours other things going on, weekend work etc etc. So this way we work hard for a couple of days doing prep, look after people on the night and then enjoy other people’s hospitality. the thought of 8 for dinner makes me really nervous. What to serve, will they have things in common, etc

  15. Great ideas here. I always forget about ham! Glazed ham! Yesssss! We have a huge family and get togethers are frequent and serious eating affairs. We’ve just moved and left our pizza oven but that was a cracker for feeding a crowd quickly. It’s our son’s 4th birthday this weekend so we got a huge bit of brisket to smoke, fresh bread rolls, Bobby Flay’s green onion slaw, pickles (of course!) and we’re good to go. We often do slow cooked meat for sliders, Mexican etc. good condiments, good bread, tender meat, all the work is done in advance!
    Get onto philly cheese steaks, so good with a crowd! Cook up onion and green caps in advance, good cheese, a baguette, make a great gravy and strips of beef. Best sambos ever!
    For guests for breakfast I love to do a baked Spanish egg. Christina Batista has a great recipe. I make this up in advance, whack it in the fridge and poach the eggs separately rather than bake them in the sauce. I tend to get talking and overcook the eggs! Ha!

    My sister is the soup queen and her daughter’s birthdays are in the dead of NE Vic winter so her birthday parties always include big pots of lamb shank soup or spicy lentil chicken and yoghurt soup with heaps of lime and coriander. She’s been known to crank out bulk cheese toasties to accompany a good French onion.

    Christmas is epic here. We have a Christmas ‘bible’ where all the quantities of meat ordering etc get written down and all the best recipes. That book is a national treasure. A great dessert is backwards meringues – throw 1 cup of sugar in your mixmaster and slowly add 4 egg whites. Beat the bejesus out of it. Pipe and bake slowly. The kids love topping their own pavs. It’s a great dessert bar! Lemon curd, fruit, cream and peppermint crisps (of course!)

    I could go on all day! Yum! Food for a crowd! The best meals are eaten with the ones you love with a glass to clinkety clink!

  16. I am that kid who dead set eats ALL OF THE CHEESE and then goes hunting around for it again after dinner.


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