On the night that my labor with Chase began, we had friends over for homemade pizza, so I decided the best way to celebrate and commemorate his first year of life would be with a make-your-own pizza party. I was a little bit worried beforehand about how it would work logistically (even with just our immediate families, there were still almost 20 people in attendance) and I hoped there wouldn’t be a pile up of unfinished pizzas waiting for the oven, an overheated kitchen and hungry guests. But it went really smoothly and almost everyone went out of their way to say how much fun they had. Since most of my planning was through trial and error, I thought I would share some tips and tricks for hosting a make your own pizza party. Enjoy!
- Make a list of traditional pizza toppings. It’s easiest to break them down into categories: Meats, Cheese, Sauces, Veggies and Extras. You can get more creative, with additions like bacon, goat cheese, avocado, sundried tomatoes, etc. These things typically cost a little more than the traditional stuff. Here’s what was on our list:
- Calculate how much dough you’ll need. If you buy the pre-made dough you get at the grocery store, it typically comes in 1 lb. packages. Plan on each each guest using a half pound of dough for them to make their pizza. In our case, that ended up being MORE than enough and we had several packages leftover (which you can freeze to save.) If you want to buy the dough in bulk, some pizza places will allow you to buy theirs by the pound.
- Pick up some pizza pans. I bought four 12 inch. round pans from Walmart for a little over $1 apiece. I figured since two fit in the oven at once, the other two could be used for prepping pizzas about to go in the oven.
- Get bowls for toppings. You might have enough already at home or you might rather use all disposable bowls for easy clean up. Whatever you choose, just make sure you have a couple bigger ones for tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese, since the majority of people will use both of those.
- A couple hours before the party, take the dough out of the fridge to soften on the counter. Cold dough is very hard to shape, so it works best if it’s at room temperature.
- Once the dough is soft enough, shape as many as you have space for. It makes it much easier if you have them rolled and shaped ahead of time instead of needing people to do that part (which can be messy and time consuming.)
- Grease the pizza pans and put the shaped dough on them so they’re ready to be topped by your guests.
- Cook the meats ahead of time. For the chicken, I did one batch of chicken tenders, then chopped it all up once it was cooked and divided it in half, putting hot sauce/Ranch dressing on half for the buffalo chicken and barbecue sauce on half. Cook any sausage ahead of time as well.
- Put everything out in bowls. A long table or kitchen island is best so people can move down the line easily.
Tips for keeping things moving:
- Have a few people take turns being on oven duty. Make sure you have trivets or other places to put down very hot pans since your stovetop won’t fit many at a time.
- Designate one person to cut and serve. Have that same person let the guest know when their pizza is out of the oven.
- Put the the whole cooked pizzas on the table, so it’s out of the kitchen and guests can swap/ try other people’s pies.
- Have fun! Treat it like mingle and eat party rather than a formal sit down dinner. People will want to eat their pizza when it comes out of the oven, but as long as you have a salad and a few little appetizers to munch on at the table, no one will care if they’re still waiting to make theirs.
How did you celebrate your child(ren)’s first birthday? Was it a low-key gathering or a big party with lots of friends and family?