We don't know why, but there is something universally appealing about customizing your own meal — which makes a build-your-own bar an easy dinner or dessert option for you and a fun party experience for your guests. From a baked potato bar to an avocado party, here are nine ideas for fun meals that your guests assemble themselves.
• 1 Taco Bar: A party classic. Put out a spread of warm tortillas, salsas and the fillings of your choice, from barbacoa beef to a vegan roasted vegetable and cabbage slaw combo.
• 2 BLT Party: Cook up a batch of bacon in the oven, borrow a few extra toasters, make a couple types of fancy mayonnaise, and you have a fun and different way to feed a crowd.
• 3 Baked Potato Bar: Bake a bunch of potatoes and lay out toppings like chili, cheese, cooked vegetables, sour cream and herbs for guests to build their ideal stuffed potato.
• 4 Pizza Party: If you're entertaining just a few people, everyone can make their own personal pizza; otherwise just let people take turns devising combinations from a spread of meats, vegetables, cheeses and sauces.
Party Idea! A Build-Your-Own Bánh Mì Sandwich Bar
• 5 Bánh Mì Bar: These intensely flavorful Vietnamese sandwiches make for a different and totally delicious spread. Baguettes, fresh herbs, pickled vegetables, an array of Vietnamese-style proteins and a few condiments are all you need.
• 6 Avocado Bar: Take advantage of the fact that everything tastes better stuffed into an avocado with this unique party idea: Lay out ripe avocado halves and a variety of toppings for guests to mix as they like.
• 7 Polenta Bar: A more low-key alternative to Faith's incredible Italian polenta board party is hosting a polenta bar, with everyone getting a bowl of polenta and their choice of an array of toppings.
• 8 Crêpe Party: A pile of warm crêpes, a pot of hot coffee and a myriad of syrups, jams, sauces, fruits, yogurts, nuts and treats to make your dream creation — what more do you need?
• 9 Ice Cream Sundae Bar: Another classic. It's hard not to feel like a kid again when presented with ice cream, hot fudge, butterscotch, sprinkles and whipped cream.
What are your favorite build-your-own meals for entertaining?
Related: Birthday Party Idea: Set Up a Dessert Bar!
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross; Beth Liebetrau)