There’s no absolute formula to ascertain the amount of food and beverages needed to serve guests at a party or special event, but there are some guidelines. Using the “one pound rule” will help simplify the situation – plan for one pound of food for every adult guest, exclusive of beverages or desserts. Cut that number in half for children’s portions.
Determining the number of beverages required can be a bit trickier. A good rule of thumb for non-alcoholic drinks is two during the first hour and one drink per person for every hour thereafter. Expect adults to drink one alcoholic beverage per hour and keep in mind that people eat and drink more at night than during the daytime.
Confirming the number of guests is essential for any gathering. It allows you to accurately plan a menu whether you’re preparing the food yourself or having it catered. Knowing how many guests are expected will allow you to have enough tableware and glasses on hand. It will also save money if you’re paying for a catered event.
The food selected to feed a crowd is equally important. Stick to familiar favorites and traditional crowd-pleasers. The type of gathering will determine the menu. For example, the snacks served for a sporting event are completely inappropriate for a formal dinner. Additionally, consider what type of cutlery will be needed for dining.
If you’re preparing the food yourself, you’ll have to work out ingredient quantities needed to double or triple batches, depending on the recipe and number of guests. There are convenient, online calculators that can make determining amounts a breeze.
It’s also good to remember that some dishes, such as enchilada casseroles or those that are pasta-based, are more filling and will help save some money on the food bill. The same is true of sandwiches such as BBQ pork. With some dishes, the ingredients can be prepared a day or so in advance to give you breathing space for the day of the event.
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