We had our annual July birthday party last month; we're now up to three honorees (the Chief and two clergy friends). The Chief decided he wanted a larger group, of a dozen or so, and didn't want me killing myself in the kitchen. As a result, we had an Italian restaurant cater the food. We ordered 2 packages for 8, so we ended up with 2 kinds of salad, 2 pastas, 2 entrees, ciabatta bread, and a tray of single-serving desserts.
It felt so weird to do NO cooking AT ALL for a party. We did still have dishes to do afterwards, because sterling, crystal and good china DO NOT go in the dishwasher, but no dishes to do before guests arrived. That meant we spent more time decluttering the house and generally getting it ready for company.
The woman who brought the food was very efficient in setting up, and easy to work with. We're glad we have such a big kitchen island - plenty of room for 3 warming-pan racks, both salad varieties, and the tray of mini-desserts. (The bread went on the table.) Everyone loved the food, and the company was convivial as always, so the experiment was mostly a success.
I say "mostly" a success because the Chief & I decided that most of the food we ordered didn't keep too well in the warming pans; several things got dried out or rubbery (although the mushroom ravioli was very good). We also weren't crazy about most of the desserts. The chocolate things (chocolate-coated cake?) were popular, but I didn't love them; I liked the mini-cheesecakes and cremes brulees, but the Chief didn't; and the little apple pastries were better heated than room temperature.
The restaurant did a good job - had plenty of sturdy plasticware, deluxe paper napkins, at least 2 red-and-white-checked plastic tablecloths (which we declined), and the salads arrived in plastic bowls with fitted lids, not just plastic wrap. However, because of the warming pan issue, we decided that next time we'd just make big pots of pasta and sauce and a big vat of salad; no need to have dozens of different offerings.