Planning a party? Here's how to entertain a crowd.
The guests have been invited. Now, how much food will you need? Many factors play a part: the length of the event, number of people and the types of food you're serving. Think timing too. For example, a cocktail party requires much less food than an all-day event.
Other tips: When estimating food and drinks, always round UP. Try to guess what items will be most popular. Remember that more options mean smaller individual portions.
Don't forget to serve safe!
- No cooked dishes, soft cheeses, cut up fruits, lunch meats or dips should sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours
- Use chafing dishes and beds of ice or coolers to maintain food temperatures
Plan Your Portionsclose [x]
At A Glance
|Appetizers before a meal||2-3 pieces per person per hour|
|Appetizers as a meal||5-6 pieces per person per hour|
|Chilled Salads||4 ounces per person|
|Hot Side Dishes||3-4 ounces per person
(depending on number of side dishes)
|Pasta as an entrée||6-8 ounces per person|
|Pasta as a side dish||3-4 ounces per person|
|Lunch Entrée Portion||4-6 ounces per person|
|Dinner Entrée Portion||6-8 ounces per person|
|Dessert||3-4 ounces per person|
|Rolls/Bread||2 per person|
|Use the amount below when serving a single beverage|
|Coffee/1 pound||Serves 50 one-cup servings|
|Punch/1 gallon||Serves 32 4-ounce servings|
|Soda/2 liter||Serves 11 6-ounce glasses
Serves 10 8-ounce glasses
Evening function with no dinner:
- 10-15 pieces per person. Make sure it's substantial. When appetizers are served buffet-style vs. passed on trays, people tend to eat more.
Evening function with dinner following:
- 3-5 pieces per person. Can be lighter foods such as cheese or veggies.
Late morning or early afternoon with a meal following:
- 1-3 pieces per person. Again, can be lighter, such as veggies or cheese.
- About 3 beverages per person at a party.
- A 2-liter of soda fills ten 8-ounce glasses.
- Plan on guests consuming a cup of coffee every 1.3 hours (3 drinks over 4 hours).
- Coffee consumption peaks in the morning, late afternoons and after meals; coffee drinkers will usually consume 1½ cups each.
- Don't forget cream and sugar and sugar substitutes!
- Offer juice, champagne, mimosas (oj and champagne mixed), coffee or tea.
- People will drink about 2 beverages each.
- Offer a main entrée (about 5 oz). Offer 2-3 side dishes (4 oz. each) with bread or a starch and dessert.
- Fruit makes a great breakfast "dessert." Estimate a half to one cup of fruit salad or 3-5 pieces of sliced fruit per person.
- Serving pastry only? Estimate 2 pieces per person.
- Offer soda, beer, wine, mixed drinks, tea or lemon water.
- If serving hors d´oeuvres, plan 2-4 per person.
- Accompany your entrée (about 5 oz.) with 2-3 sides (4 oz each), bread or a starch and dessert.
- For buffet-style, plan on 4 oz meat and 2 oz. cheese per person, allowing for one to two sandwiches each.
- Serve water with a lemon slice in addition to any other beverages.
- Plan 3-5 hors d'oeuvres per person, depending on your number of courses.
- Offer your entrée dish (5-7 oz.) and 2-3 sides (4 oz. each for veggies, 2 oz. for beans or pasta). Of course, offer bread, salad (1 oz w/out dressing), possibly soup or an appetizer.
- Plan 1 slice of cake, tart or pasty, 4 oz. of a creamy dessert, such as mousse or pudding, 5 oz if serving ice cream.
- Remember, more people mean more courses and more choices.