I realize that there is already an answer to this challenge, and it is: Catering. But that won't do, so I throw out my challenge to this universe of creative foodies. Last June, I hosted a wedding shower for my foodie friend Molly. Molly didn't really want a shower -- she thinks they are cheesie by nature, but knowing her family and his, it was in the cards. I did my best to make it as non-shower-like as I could, specifically focusing on the menu. It was simple, but good. A few of the particulars included shrimp & cilantro summer wraps, dumplings, and curried chicken salad. Molly loved her wedding shower, finding great pride in it being the only wedding shower she's ever been to where people raved about the food.
Nine months later (I do love the timing), I find myself hosting a baby shower for Molly and the one thing she has requested is that people rave about the food. I could do a repeat performance, given that the items worked well in quantity, but Molly, being a foodie, would notice (no one else of the crew would, but Molly would and that's all there is too it).
A few ideas I'm toying with are: mini-crab souffles (shockingly simple to prepare and cook), shrimp salad in wonton 'bowls,' Asian eggplant spread, and cupcakes (cocunut, cardomon-orange, and cinnomen devil's food). As you can tell... none of these items stick together in a 'menu' form. Any suggestions?