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Food and Beverage Quantities for your Event or Party!

Exactly how much food does it take to feed an army? That is a question that haunts even the most experienced dinner party entertainer! We are here to help you plan the right amount of food to serve at your next get-together, whether you are serving four people or 104.

Feeding a lot of people does not have to be hard; it only takes some planning and a little confidence! If the thought of cooking all of the food yourself is overwhelming, ask your friends to help you, or make one or two of the dishes yourself and buy the rest. Remember to relax and enjoy the process -don't stress too much - guest do not expect you to make everything like an experienced culinary professional!

Opt for a Buffet Line

The easiest and most simple way to feed guests is with a buffet line. A general rule is that everyone will not eat everything. People normally will eat more starches and meats than vegetables and anything fried will be the first to go! Going through a buffet line can make people feel the pressure of others behind them, so they move along quickly and won't take huge quantities the first time through. Remember that it is much more preferable to have leftovers than a sparse spread at your buffet table.

How Much Food?
Here is a guide to help you estimate your food quantities for either a buffet or a sit-down dinner.

For individual meats, fish, poultry:
5 - 6 ounces per person
If the cuts of meat have bones in them, consider adding more weight per person
For multiple meat meals and buffets:
4 - 6 ounces per person
For pasta dishes:
For a sit-down dinner, a pound of pasta will serve 4-6
For a buffet, a pound will serve 8-10 people
For vegetables:
With a premixed salad, estimate one handful per person
One head of lettuce will feed approximately 5 people, 4 medium heads will serve 15-20 people
For appetizers:
Estimate about 10-12 items total per person.
Make 3-4 of each item per person, keeping in mind that everyone may not take all of the items
For desserts:
Calculate one full portion of dessert per person
For multiple desserts, people will taste smaller portions of each item
A normal cake will serve approximately 10, but 15 will be fed if you are also serving pie
Doubling Recipes

Remember that doubling and tripling recipes is something of an art, so it is best to work small and work your way up. You will have a much better success rate with most recipes if you make multiple batches of a single recipe rather than trying to multiply the quantities by 3, 4, or more.

Throwing a successful dinner party does not have to throw you into a cardiac arrest! Just have fun, relax, and enjoy the time with your many guests - they will remember the fun and fellowship much longer than they will remember the menu.


For those parties that are held in-between meals, you can offer a variety of
hot and cold hors d'oeuvres instead of a full meal.

At parties that run one to two hours, without serving dinner, you should
figure on 5-6 light hors d'oeuvres or 5-8 heavy or combination (light and
heavy) hors d'oeuvres.

To determine drink quantities, follow this formula. In general, plan on two
drinks per guest in the first hour and one drink per guest each hour thereafter.

If the weather is warm and/or people are involved in strenuous activities
(dancing, sports, swimming) and/or you have many teens or small children,
increase your quantities.

ReasonToParty is pleased to provide this free information to you to help you plan your upcoming party or event.

Would you like to help us keep this information free?  Then please consider donating. We thank you sincerely!


Beverage Quantities

Coffee - 1 Gallon serves about 20 cups.

One - Fifth bottle
Shot size: 1oz. = 25 drinks
1 1/8oz. = 22 drinks
1 1/4oz. = 20 drinks
1 ˝ oz. = 17 drinks
One - Quart bottle
Shot size: 1oz. = 32 drinks
1 1/8oz. = 28 drinks
1 1/4oz. = 25 drinks
1 ˝ oz. = 21 drinks
One Liter bottle
Shot size: 1oz. = 33 drinks
1 1/8oz. = 30 drinks
1 1/4oz. = 27 drinks
1 ˝ oz. = 22 drinks

There is no exact formula to calculate accurate beverage consumption. As a rule, buying beverages by the gallon, bottle or canned beverages on consumption is more cost-effective

There is a trend lately that some guests are starting with alcohol and switching to soft drinks or water after the first hour or two. Don't forget that some people are either non-drinkers or are the designated driver, so be sure to have delicious and attractive non-alcoholic drinks available as well.

However, what people drink is completely unique. Who prefers beer to wine? Who likes a soft drink instead of wine? Who drinks red wine, who drinks white? Who likes a mixed drink, who likes beer? That's why bars have such a large stock -- to satisfy the tastes of so many people.

White wine (Chablis or Chardonnay) used to be more popular, but lately more people are choosing a red wine (Merlot or Cabernet). On the other hand, if you want to "split the difference," serve a white zinfandel or rosé.

If you need to limit the choices of hard liquor, select vodka because it can be mixed with so many things. If your budget allows, also can add favorites such as scotch, rye, rum, tequila and one or more sweet drinks such as Amaretto, Frangelico or peach schnapps.

At large parties with many beer drinkers, a keg is a more cost-conscious way of serving, but it is also more labor-intensive and requires more space and ice.

Note: Personalize plastic drink glasses by writing guests names on them with permanent ink. This will save you the trouble and expense of a lot of half-full glasses being discarded because a guest couldn't remember which glass was his or hers.

Don't forget that if you mix ginger ale, fruit juice, 7-Up, club soda or Sprite, you can turn the wine into a spritzer which gives you more options. These mixers without the wine also can served to guests who aren't imbibing.

Don't forget to add bottled water to your list as well.

When you are concerned about buying too much liquor, here is a suggestion. Find a liquor store that will allow you to return any unopened stock. That way you can bring back cases of beer or soda that aren't used. Check with warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. In addition to getting a good price, they can help you decide on quantities and are usually open to taking back unopened bottles and six-packs. However, they do have some restrictions, so check with them first.

Remember that a good bottle of wine or quality liquor also makes a nice hostess gift throughout the year.

If you must stay within a beverage budget, then serve wine, beer and/or soft drinks alone.

For the greatest savings, serve an alcoholic and plain punch.

TIP: To avoid youngsters "accidentally" dipping into the "spiked" punch bowl, choose recipes that are two different colors and use see-through drinking glasses. This will tell you at a glance whether you need to make a substitution.

One of the most important considerations, and the one most likely overlooked is ice. You can never have too much ice.

On average, for a four-hour party, figure on 2-3 lbs. of ice per guest. In warm weather, making frozen drinks, beverages on ice or guests are up and active, figure on 5-6 lbs. per guest.

You also will need 3-4 ten-pound bags of ice for each large cooler or tub. Add a little water to the ice to make the drinks chill more quickly.

TIP: Don't let your guests get frostbite by having to dig through a cooler, large tub or trash can for a cold beverage. If it's a serve-yourself bar, then keep a smaller container for guests' consumption. Re-stock often, using heavy-duty rubber gloves or tongs, to retrieve iced beverages from your main supply.




ReasonToParty is pleased to provide this free information to you to help you plan your upcoming party or event. Would you like to help us keep this information free?  Then please consider donating. We thank you sincerely!

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