For many guests, food is the most important (and memorable) aspect of an event. As a planner, it’s not just about food quality but quantity as well. It’s vital to find a balance between too much and just enough food. You may be asking yourself, “How much food do I need for my event?” First, nail down the guest list so that you have an accurate guest count. Next, use the following guidelines for each stage in the meal.

Will you have passed appetizers before the main dinner or will appetizers be the only food served? If the light bites will serve as the preview to the meal, order at least 6 pieces for each guest. If appetizers are the only source of food for your event, plan for at least double that amount with twelve pieces per guest. We suggest offering a variety of appetizers, at least 3-6 different kinds.

The Main Course
Unless you are having a seated and plated dinner with exact and strict attendance numbers, you will need to plan for additional servings for the main course. For the main dish, offer 1.5 servings for each guest in attendance. For the side dishes, a useful measurement is 1.5 cups per guest. Planning for excess of 1 serving will make up for over consumption of some guests and under consumption for others.

As a general rule of thumb, you should plan on offering 1.5 servings of dessert for each guest. This serving can depend on the type of dessert. For example, if you are providing ice cream, allow for 1 cup per guest. For cookies, generally 2-3 cookies per guest will suffice. If you are giving any type of cake, like a cupcake or slices of cheesecake, depend on 1.5 pieces per attendee. If the dessert is deliciously decadent, you may need more!

Bonus: Drinks
The food isn’t the only important part of the event. Drinks can sometimes be the item your guests look forward to the most! If serving cocktails or alcoholic drinks, the average number of drinks per guest per hour is 1.5. If you’re hosting a 4-hour event, plan on serving 6 alcoholic drinks per attendee. If alcohol is not served, the general rule for tea, lemonade and other drinks is 4 gallons per each 25 guests. If both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks are served, this amount can be cut in half to 2 gallons per 25 attendees.

Still need help planning your event menu?
Tweet us your attendance numbers at @TheGICC for suggested amounts and menus!


You must be logged in to post a comment.

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind