I like to feed lots of people.
I have honed my lots of people-feeding skills over time, and figured out a few tips:
1. Stick to the basics and go with what you know. Instead of trying something fancy and impressive, which will end up freaking me out and prevent me from enjoying the event, I go with simple, tasty, and tried & true.
2. Buffet-style works best. I usually pick a menu with 1-2 main dish items and a variety of sides. I set out the spread somewhere with easy access, and let people serve themselves. Sandwiches, soups and salads are great for this.
3. Pick a theme - it makes it super easy to select your menu. For example: Mexican Fiesta: build-your-taco bar with chicken & beef and an assortment of toppings (sour cream, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, chopped cilantro, cheese) chips & salsa (or a vat of some awesome fake nacho cheese, or a taco dip), some of those fun little tortilla roll-ups, green salad with cilantro lime vinaigrette, etc. For dessert, you could make some cinnamon tortilla chips and a fruit salsa, or FLAN, etc.
Here's the menu from my most recent gathering, with some recipes (it's nothing special, but there was nothing left!):
Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (Hawaiian bread mini-rolls and little slider buns)
Sandwich toppings: homemade freezer pickles, sliced red onion, banana peppers, lettuce
Hashbrown Casserole (seriously)
Marinated Veggie Salad
For the BBQ Chicken:
Load up the crock pot with the following:
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I figure about 1 breast/2 people, for smaller ones, 1:1)
1/2 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
a splash of apple cider vinegar (1/4 cup?)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
That's it for me, but you can get fancy and add more if you like - this is pretty basic, so it has broad appeal. I adjust seasonings and sauce at the end.
Then fire up the crock pot, and cook on medium heat 4-6 hours, or low 6-8. If you're going to be gone all day, add about 1 c. of chicken broth to keep it moist. Shred chicken, and mix up to make sure it's all coated with the saucy goodness, and you're ready to rock!
Note: this is a great freezer meal, too - either put all of the ingredients into a freezer bag and knead to combine, then thaw and toss into the crockpot. You can also do the cooking and THEN freeze the shredded BBQ chicken. Then just thaw and reheat.