gourmet grilled cheese

Elevate Your Next Party With One of These Tasty DIY Food Bars

rustic loft bar party (Image)

The holiday season may have come to an end, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to celebrate. From weddings to babies to birthdays and everything in between, there’s a whole host of reasons to throw some pretty awesome bashes in 2016. Of course, every great party needs a great menu. Why not go outside the box this year and let guest get in on the culinary fun by creating a unique food bar for your next gathering?

Popularized on the wedding circuit, food bars are interactive stations that let guests customize a portion of their meal. They usually feature a base food, like pasta, tacos, or mashed potatoes, and a series of mix-ins for guests to put their own unique spin on what’s being offered. While this may seem like something designed for fancy events with five-star caterers, food bars are actually very adaptable to any budget and can easily be DIYed for any party. Whether it’s dessert or the main dish, all you need is a food that can be customized and some space to display choices and for guests to create their meal.

Need some inspiration? Here are a few great food bars that can be assembled with ease and guaranteed to impress your guests no matter their ages.

Grilled Cheese Bar

Who doesn’t love a warm, melted cheese? Supply a variety of cheeses, artisanal breads, and a variety of veggies, proteins and spreads, and let guests put their own spin on this gooey classic. If you have the space, you can even put out a crockpot of tomato soup for dipping. (Make sure to have a panini press on hand so guests can cook their own sandwiches without the stove.)

grilled cheese bar (Image)

PB&J Bar

Take guests back to a much simpler time when the biggest problem was mom forgetting the lunchtime cookies. Give this beloved childhood staple an elevated twist with gourmet peanut butters and jellies, bakery breads, and favorite add-ons like Nutella, fluff, and fruit. Don’t forget the chips and chocolate milk. (The Peanut Butter Company is a great source for funky peanut butter flavors and a menu of sandwich suggestions.)

PB&J Bar (Image)

Flatbread Bar

Think of this as an adult version of those sleepover make-your-own pizza parties. Give each guest their own crusts and lay out a spread of sauces, cheeses, proteins and veggies. You can even provide recipes for both cooked and no-cook pies. (Be sure to cook proteins ahead of time, so you don’t have to worry about undercooked chicken or beef and to cut down on oven time.)

flatbread bar (Image)

Cereal Bar

Sometimes, nothing hits the spot better than everyone’s favorite breakfast staple. Set out a variety of classic and childhood cereals for guests to mix and match, a selection of types and flavors of milk, and fun toppings like fruit, nuts and candies for the perfect late-night snack or early morning pick-me-up. Invest in some clear glass containers and pitchers to create a pretty display where guests can easily access all their options. (Check out the menu from the iconic cereal bar Cereality for ideas on what to offer.)

cereal bar (Image)

Sundae Bar

Whether it’s ten degrees or ninety, you’ll be hard pressed to find a guest who will turn down a scoop of their favorite ice cream. Supply two to four flavors, a few different syrups, whipped cream, sprinkles, cherries, and just about any sweet toppings you can think of. Stick with classic flavors that don’t already have things mixed in for the best customizable canvases. (Concerned with keeping the ice cream cold? Check out these tips from the DIYNetwork.)

sundae bar (Image)

Hot Chocolate Bar

When it’s cold outside, warm your guests up with a cup of this wintertime staple. Create a display of mugs, mixes or pre-made hot chocolate, coffee shop syrups marshmallows and whipped cream. You can even include peppermint sticks, cinnamon and cocoa powders, and chocolate treats like peanut butter cups and chocolate nuggets to mix in to really pump up the flavor. (You can either make the hot chocolate ahead of time in a crockpot or use a large coffee urn to supply hot water for guests to make their own.)

Hot chocolate bar (Image)

Cupcake Bar

Who among us hasn’t imagined creating our own cupcake shop like Max and Caroline on 2 Broke Girls? Bake up three to five flavors of cupcakes, and supply guests with a variety of frostings and toppings for them to create their sweet masterpieces. You can even include a few offbeat toppings like bacon bits and sea salt for a savory twist. (Be sure to label frostings to ensure guest don’t mix them up and utilize some stands to neatly display cupcakes for easy access.)

cupcake bar (Image)


Heading to Philadelphia? Here’s Some Places to Check Out on Your Next Visit

XOXO Philly

The birthplace of independence, home of Rocky, and land of the cheesesteak, Philadelphia truly is one of a kind. Every year, tourists flock to this historic city to immerse themselves in the story of the American Revolution and walk in the footsteps of our forefathers. Living right outside the city of Brotherly Love, one of my favorite things to do is hop on the train and right into the heart of the city. I love exploring the boutiques of Old City, soaking up the sight and sounds of Independence Mall, catching a show on the Avenue of the Arts, and grabbing a bite to eat at the Reading Terminal. While I’m constantly stumbling upon something new every time I’m in town, there are a few places that hold a special place in my heart.

Here’s my top favorite places to shop and eat when I head down to the City of Brotherly Love to add to your must-visit list next you come to Philadelphia.

Smak Parlour, located at 219 Market Street

Girly to the max with a sophisticated rock and roll edge, Smak Parlour is a must-see for any fashionista. Started by best friends Abby and Katie, this bright pink dollhouse-inspired boutique houses an eclectic collection of vintage-inspired tops, pinup-style dresses and deconstructed band tees, as well as a variety of luxe accessories that will a little retro glam into any look. (Their black cherry-printed pinup dress is one of my go-to pieces.) Not only does Smak Parlour have a brick-and-morter location, but they are also taking their style city-wide with their mobile fashion truck. Abby and Katie, along with their fashion-forward and friendly staff, definitely bring some serious style to the city one neighborhood at a time.

Smak Parlour summer

Never Too Spoiled, located at 57 N 3rd Street

With earthy, laid-back vibe, Never Too Spoiled is a little piece of heaven for the bohemian in all of us and one of my favorite places to shop of all time. In addition to being an official carrier of Lokai bracelets, Giving Keys and Loova soaps, they house a collection breezy pieces from lines like A’reve, Blu Pepper and Entro. Their staff is super sweet and always ready to help, whether their starting a fitting room for you or providing recommendations for items to try on or pair with what you’ve already picked out. However, this boutique isn’t just all about shopping. They host workshops and offer an event space that can be rented out for parties and showers. This boho paradise is a testament to the fact that no girl can ever be too spoiled.

Never Too Spoiled

Philadelphia Independents, located at 35 N. 3rd Street

Looking for a unique souvenir to commemorate your trip? Want a cool way to show off some Philly pride? Check out Philadelphia Independents where founders Jennifer Provost, Tiffica Benza and Ashley Peel Pinkham have brought together some of the most talented local artists the city and surrounding areas have to offer. From graphic throw pillows to wire necklaces to wood cutting boards, your guaranteed to find that perfect little something for everyone, while supporting some awesome local artists.

Philadelphia Independents

Meltkraft, located inside the Reading Terminal Market at 12 & Arch street

While Philadelphia may be synonymous with the cheesesteak, Meltkraft is all about another cheesy delicacy: the grilled cheese sandwich. However, this isn’t your average sandwich. Handcrafted with artisan cheeses from their creamery Valley Shepard Farm, they are elevating this comfort food staple with bold flavors. There’s the Valley Thunder that incorporates brisket and mac and cheese, and the Brielle, a mix of brie, cranberry chutney, caramelized onions and nuts. I’m more of a classic girl, so for me it’s all about the Avenue D, a plain and simple sandwich bumped up in flavor with the amazing Valley Shepard cheeses. (For something a little more luxe, you can have cooked with truffle oil.) With a side of regular or dill-flavored kettle chips, this is the perfect place for a quick and filling lunch.


The Franklin Fountain, located at 116 Market Street

Who among us doesn’t love ice-cream? To get you ice-cream fix, head over to the Franklin Fountain. This vintage-style soda fountain is serving up sundaes, splits, shakes, and old-fashioned ice-cream sodas. Flavors range from the classic, like vanilla and chocolate, to the more exotic, like teaberry and green tea. Whether you get it a cone or one of their Chinese takeout container inspired cups, there is something to satisfy every sweet tooth. Need a recommendation? My personal favorite is the green tea ice-cream with chocolate sprinkles. (It’s amazing. Trust me.)

Franklin Fountain

Got a favorite place in Philadelphia you love to go? Share it below or on the Will Write For Boots Facebook or Twitter pages!