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Graduation Buffet

Throwing a graduation party? Here's some inspiration -- and recipes!

Is the Grand March on the schedule for someone you know? If you're in charge of the festivities, you're in for some fun! Graduation is full of reminiscing over photos, tallying accomplishments, and dreaming about potential paths ahead. For the actual party, you'll need to get down to some nuts and bolts, of course — especially when it comes to the food you'll serve!

A buffet is the perfect solution for graduation parties, with guests coming and going, myriad food preferences, and a casual atmosphere. But what kind of buffet should you serve? Here are some possibilities:

Fave Foods

Serve a buffet of all the graduate's favorite foods, even if they seem unlikely partners, such as Macaroni and Cheese and Pizza. Or take one favorite type of dish and serve it several ways. A chili lover will appreciate several versions of the dish. Make a Crock Cauliflower White Chili, a Cincinnati Five-Way Chili, and a Jamaican Jerk Chili, for example. Which is best will be a great conversation starter!

Dessert Buffet

An array of luscious sweets signals that this is a very special occasion. Serve with tea (iced and hot) and coffee, and — if your graduate is feminine — adorn the table with doilies and frills. Some options: Ultimate Fresh Raspberry Cheesecake Bars, Poppy Seed Cake, and Pecan Snowballs. Be sure to include some fresh fruit, too, such as these Sweet and Savory Strawberries or plain, cut fruit, served with a Coriander Fruit Dip.

Global Perspective

Choosing an ethnic theme provides great structure for a party. Go Mexican with Baja Black Bean Cakes and Tortilla Towers, Italian with Bruschetta and Lasagna, or Indian with Coconut Cashew Rice  and White Chicken Korma. Choose table linens and centerpieces to reflect your theme: cover the table with a Mexican blanket and hang a sombrero overhead; use a red checked cloth and wine-bottle vases on the Italian table; and drape silk (or silk-looking) scarves across the Indian buffet, with lotus-shaped candles and tea lights tiptoeing down the center.

There are many more thematic possibilities! Is your graduate a baseball fan? Serve ballpark foods! A camper? How about a gourmet spin on camp foods? Consider a beach theme for someone who loves the water, a local-foods theme for the sustainably driven, and a garden theme for the graduate with a green thumb (or just a love of plants).

No matter what your overall approach, you'll find plenty of great recipes here. Best wishes for the graduate — and you!

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