Great Make-Ahead Party Menu for a Big Group?

Q: I’m trying to plan the menu for my son’s second birthday party. He doesn’t have any particular favorite foods so I don’t really have any inspiration there. It’s just going to be family, about 15 people for an early dinner. I have hosted this same group of people many times for various events, and I need some new menu inspiration!

I’m looking for something that doesn’t need to be made at the last moment — preferably something that can sit and stay warm for a while. In the past, I’ve done a soup bar, baked potato bar, assorted sausages and salads, chili, pulled pork, lasagna, and sloppy joes. Anyone have any other great ideas for a group?

Sent by Jen

Editor: Jen, what about a polenta bar? It’s easy to make polenta ahead of time (keep it warm in a slow cooker). Line up pots of meatballs, braised greens, and perhaps a cheesy sauce. (Again, all can be made ahead.)

Readers, what else would you suggest?

(Image: Faith Durand)