Good company, great music, and flavorful food are the makings of any enjoyable party. On that last point, it is only the most poorly planned of festive gatherings that does not at least have snacks, hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, and spirits on hand for its hungry guests. And while not all occasions call for a three-course meal or a dinner-sized entrée, a few finger food options and perhaps a light dessert might do just fine. But a question all hosts and hostesses end up asking themselves is what sized portions are best for their situation? This ultimate guide has answers for that question.
In many cases, serving guests a complete meal is both expected and sensible, and there are fortunately excellent and inspired caterers capable of delivering on that scale. But parties range from casual after work affairs to carefully planned birthday celebrations, and these call for different types and quantities of cuisine. Take a look at The Ultimate Guide to How Much Food to Serve at a Party for a sense of what sort of servings make sense in your case. These are recommendations and can be modified as the host likes, but by and large the guide offers a foolproof baseline for each party type.
Portioning Recommendations for Your Party
- Wedding Receptions
If any party calls for a full meal spread, it is the party following a wedding ceremony. Weddings often run long and ask a lot of guests in terms of dressing up, arriving early, staying late, and listening to longwinded toasts. By dinnertime, everyone in attendance is fantasizing about a trip to that fast food joint they drove past on the way in. Work with a skilled catering service to create a large portion, three-course menu—one that will keep your guests from racing to the exits for dinner. Appetizers will also keep hunger from setting in too heavily; these can be planned to match your dinner’s cultural/ethnic theme, or they can stand on their own.
2. Birthday Parties
Birthdays are often seen as an occasion for cocktails, gag gifts, embarrassing stories, and more cocktails. And though a birthday party can be all of those things, feeding guests should not be overlooked, especially if you hope for a good turnout the following year. Because of their typically casual nature, birthday parties are perfect for hors d’oeuvres and smaller plates of tasty morsels.
Provide your guests with a mix of healthier greens/fruits, something in the way of smaller salad, but don’t forget to indulge while you’re celebrating. Wings and burger sliders, for instance, are good for the taste buds and meet the smaller portion guidelines, as well.
3. Office Parties
Based on the time of day and whether or not the event is onsite, office parties can run the full Portion Guidelines gamut. In most cases, self-serve sandwiches, chips, and bottles of water are satisfactory to all, but the options should not end there. Flatbreads have gained popularity in recent years, and can be prepared in health-conscious styles. Like pizza, a flatbread menu allows party patrons to serve themselves as much or as little as they like.
Keep the portions light and modest with your office party; there are plenty of options available to you.
4. Sports Parties
Whether it’s the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, or the Olympics, these major events have people gathering in living rooms and dens across the country. The Ultimate Guide to How Much Food to Serve at a Party suggests very large servings of food at sports parties, but in smaller, finger food varieties. Nachos, hot dogs, buffalo wings, and deviled eggs are cornerstones of the sports event diet, and an inspired caterer can help you put these menu items on offer in original ways. Whatever ends up on the platter, make sure the portions are particularly large.
5. Graduation Parties
High school and college graduates bring sizable appetites with them to every table, party or no party. In the case of a graduation party, keep the menu simple, ample, and flavorful. Pizza (or flatbread) is literally always a safe bet, as are cheese & cracker plates, sandwich platters, and fruit trays. Variety and quantity are key to a successful graduation celebration; whether you go with a couple of these recommendations or all of them, don’t skimp on the portions.
Planning Food for Your Next Party
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