Holiday Parties: Soup's On

Good party theme, good deeds

Holiday parties tend to be so of a piece, they blur into each other. Make yours stand out by serving up a menu that stars a wintry favorite — soup — while serving your community at large.

The whole point of a Soup’s On! party is to celebrate the season with family and friends while collecting items for a local food bank. You cook up several kettles of your favorite soups for a cozy supper. Guests, in turn, bring a bagful of soup cans to be donated.

Soup is an ideal holiday-party theme for several reasons.

  • It’s simple to prepare beforehand, even weeks ahead (freeze it, then heat it up on party day), and it doesn’t require a lot of fuss at serving time (simply stick a ladle in the pot and scoop it out).
  • As a menu item, it appeals to almost every palate and ethnic-food prefer- ence (think gazpacho, borscht, wonton, consomme╠ü).
  • It is the perfect “help-yourself-to- seconds” dish.
  • As a food-pantry donation item, the canned variety proves to be a meal in itself and doesn’t require much kitchen equipment to prep it.

Soup party success

  • Include the kids. The more of a vested interest your children have in this project, the more likely they are to cultivate an appreciation for what they have and compassion toward those who have less. By cheerfully sharing this experience, you’ll send the message that serving others is a good thing, not a chore.
  • Invite informatively. Spend an evening with your family coming up with a guest list and making creative invitations to send. Simple paper cutouts are easy to assemble: Consider a soup bowl shape with alphabet “noodles” spelling out the theme. Or mimic Andy Warhol and make your own reproduction of the Campbell’s Soup can. Be sure to include the particulars of the party as well as an explanation of the food-drive requirement.
  • Prepare to receive food donations. Contact your local food pantry to determine its specifications; many ask for aluminum cans only, no glass containers. Gather sturdy cardboard boxes to place near your front door on the night of the party, where your guests can drop off their cans. Some food banks provide cartons for this purpose. Find out ahead of time where and when you can deliver your donation after your party’s over.
  • Gather your party goods. Whether china or sturdy disposable, make sure you have enough bowls, cups, spoons and napkins for your crowd. Consider having extras on hand, especially since you’re likely serving more than one kind of soup. The goal of this party is good food, great fellowship and generosity, so don’t get too distracted by elaborate details. Disposable serving ware will add to your sense of peace, lighten your workload and help you enjoy the evening.
  • Plan your menu. Select two or three of your favorite soups, varying the styles to better accommodate your guests’ differing tastes. There are plenty from which to choose: stews, chilis, chowders, minestrone, cream, noodle or vegetarian options.
  • Don’t forget to include a simple beverage bar, lots of good bread and butter as an accompaniment and a supply of cookies for an easy dessert.
  • Make it fun. Consider setting up a craft table for the kids. Pull out a stack of board games, so that as dinner winds down, groups can form to play and visit.
  • Follow up. After the party, work with your kids to prepare thank you notes for your guests, expressing gratitude to them for partner- ing with you in this act of service. Include a count of how much food was collected and where it was delivered.

For cool soup recipes, click over to the soup board on our Pinterest page.

Mom-of-six Jessica Fisher writes about family fun at Lifeasmom.com.

Categories: Party Features, Your Home