ParentingParty PlanningCalculating the Amount of Party Food

Calculating the Amount of Party Food

Ah, parties. Those few precious hours where a roomful of people gather to schmooze, sip on sweet sparkling nothings, and enjoy the bounty of the buffet table. Guests can pile plates with roasted tomato crostini, steak tartar, imported camembert, and sprigs of parsley. The lights are low, the decorations are chic and still in place, and the alcoholic variety is truly astonishing. How did the host or hostess pull off such an evening? A heck of a lot of planning, that’s how.

The Hostess With the Edible Mostest

There’s no need to spend the days preceding your own sans-caterer gathering fretting, fearing, crying, or hiding in the corner with a bottle of scotch and asking yourself why oh why you decided to host Grandma’s eightieth birthday celebration. You may find it easy to pick up party supplies and to choose what exactly you’d like to serve the guests (that’s what Barefoot Contessa’s printable menus are for). Knowing how much food (considering Uncle Harvey will be there) and how much booze to have ready on the big day are what might take a little finagling. With the following cheat sheet and a calculator, however, all things are possible.

The Cocktail Party

Usually held during the after-dinner hours, cocktail parties feature a wide selection of alcoholic refreshment and maybe a few bowls of nuts or simple hors d’oeuvres. For a two-hour fete, plan the following things:

  • Stock up on ice. Figure one pound per guest (12 guests, 12 pounds).
  • Make sure there are three glasses to every guest (12 guests, 36 glasses).
  • Pile up enough napkins so each guest can have at least three (12 guests, 36 napkins or more).
  • Keep in mind that you can get, on average, five to six glassfuls of wine from each bottle.

The Buffet

You can dress up (caviar anyone?) or dress down (your famous cheese dip) buffet food. The route you go will depend on the party you are hosting. Even procrastinators can pull off a successful buffet with the aid of a few Costco platters. Regardless of whether you plan to make or buy your food, keep the following things in mind:

  • Provide enough appetizers so each guest can enjoy about three to five of each type.
  • Plan at least 2 tablespoons per guest for dips (20 guests, 2.5 cups of dip).
  • Purchase enough raw vegetables to get two to four cruditper guest (20 guests, 40 to 80 celery sticks).
  • Allow about a handful of salad greens per guest.
  • Plan on half an ounce of caviar per guest (20 guests, 10 ounces, and a large budget).

Enjoy the Party

These numbers are, after all, guidelines. If you know your cheese dip is going to be the hit of the party, by all means, prepare four tablespoons per guest! A good rule of thumb is to plan for more than you think you’ll need—leftovers make lovely parting gifts anyway. The most important thing to remember is to have a little fun!

By: Janice Hill
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