Who doesn’t love pizza? Regardless of age, gender or religious persuasion, pizza is the great equalizer! And a DIY Pizza Bar, what’s more fun than that?! Here’s the scoop on the Pizza Bar I set up for a recent girls’ night and how I made it special without being overwhelming!
Pick Your Toppings
When you’re setting up a pizza bar, you have to think about your audience. For a girls night, I went a little gourmet but also tried to keep the toppings on the lower calorie side. For kids, you’d want to stick to the tried and true. And for a mixed crowd, make sure you have a lot of meat options as those guys tend to love the meat lovers options. Here are the toppings I featured for my girls’ night:
- Red Sauce (Tomato Paste seasoned with a little water added means less mess than regular sauce!)
- Pesto (I love the Kirkland brand from Costco and it’s a great price!)
- Rotisserie Chicken Chunks (from the deli counter)
- Bacon Bits (Also went with the big bag from Costco)
- Turkey Italian Sausage
- Turkey Pepperoni
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Green Onions
- Black Olives
- Artichoke Hearts
- You could add sun-dried tomatoes too!
- Other options are feta and crumbled blue cheese.
- I happened to have several seasoning blends from Tastefully Simple on hand that lend themselves to pizza (Garlic Garlic, Onion Onion, and Spinach Herb) so I set those out to shake on. If you don’t have those, try setting out Italian Seasoning and Garlic Salt.
For the crust, I used Stonefire Mini Naan also from Costco. If this isn’t an option for you, I recommend sticking with something that’s already baked like a pita bread, or a fancy toast, don’t try to mess with actual raw crust. It’s always more hassle then it’s worth! Food prep was minimal but I did chop the veggies and brown the sausage during nap time earlier in the day so I’d be ready to go and less stressed right before the event.
Set the scene
Now the fun part! Here’s how I made the pizza bar pop without too much extra work. I raided my wrapping paper stash for some brown paper (Pick up a roll from Amazon here – Crown Display, Kraft Paper Roll, Brown) and covered my whole counter with it. Then I laid out the dishes I was going to use and went through with a pencil to write the labels. I tried to think of fun and creative names for some of the items just to make it all a little more engaging. For example, instead of “Sauces,” I wrote “Feeling Saucy?” (well, actually I wrote “Feeling Saucey?” which was apparently misspelled, whoops!) and instead of just “Bacon,” I wrote, “Bring on the Bacon!” After I had it all laid out in pencil, I went over it with Sharpie that coordinated with my dishes.
Baking and Serving
For baking the pizzas, I found that since most of the ingredients were refrigerated prior to serving, the pizzas needed to be baked at around 350 degrees to warm everything up but if you only baked them it took forever for them to brown. The perfect combination seemed to be baking for about 10 minutes to warm everything up and then switching to the broiler for a couple minutes to really melt and toast the cheese. I was able to do mine in batches of four to six pizzas. Next to the oven, I set up a cutting board with a pizza cutter, large knife and kitchen shears so the guests could use their preference to cut their pizza (or not)! I rounded out the whole thing with a selection of wine, a pitcher of water and a pitcher of Crystal Lite Peach Iced Tea.
Why I love DIY food
So, here’s the scoop on why I like these sorts of DIY food prep bars – and it’s not because I’m lazy! There are two big reasons. First, it makes it easy to accommodate food preferences and allergies. I noticed my girlfriend who is gluten intolerant, helped herself to a bowl of the turkey Italian sausage with some veggies and cheese skipping the crust all together. Secondly, it gives guests an activity to start interactions. Even if someone is sort of the odd man out at the event, she can find small talk that focuses on the food to start making connections with others. It’s the same reason groups do, team building exercises. By being presented with a shared task it brings a sense of camaraderie and togetherness which ultimately makes the party more entertaining and successful!
I’d love to know what you do to bring guests together! Have you ever had a fun build-it-yourself bar at a party? Share your ideas in the comments below!