Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Event Guide: Food & Beverages

Deciding how much food and how many drinks to prepare for an event seems like a guessing game. If you order too much, you take away budgeted money that could be applicable in other places. Order too little, and people get restless. In my earliest experiences as an event planner, I made these mistakes more than I’m willing to admit. But, I’ve gotten much better at expecting the unexpected when it comes to food and beverages. Here’s some of my secrets to help you get it right the first time! 

Know Your Guests

It doesn’t matter if it’s a bride & groom, a mother-to-be, or someone’s birthday—everyone wants their favorite food served at their event. As a planner/caterer it’s important to include those favorites, but don’t forget to keep the preferences of the guests in mind. 

One of the first weddings I helped plan, the bride loved sushi. Doesn’t seem like a problem, right? Well, it was when a majority of the guests were accustomed to more  traditional, home-cooked options. By not keeping the guests in mind, many of them left early—missing most of the festivities—because they were hungry. 

Key: Learn the demographics of your group. Men will eat more hearty food than women, and the older audience will prefer more traditional options compared to the younger generations. By knowing your guests, you can develop menus that include the host’s favorites, and also food options that appeal to the masses. 

Know Your Event

Knowing the type of event you are providing food for sounds like a no-brainer, right? Well, what I mean when I say know your event, is to plan food options and menus that fit the event. If you are hosting a long conference, loading your guests up with sugary foods will only make them crash later. 

Key: Choose foods that will fuel your guests and get them in the right frame-of-mind for your event. Protein is the best food group to have at an event that requires attention, focus, and for guests to be active. It will keep them wanting to participate and awake for the events. Brownies and carbs—although delicious—will send your guests into a food coma. No one wants zombies at their party, so remember to choose energizing foods. 

The Numbers Game

It’s always about numbers when it comes to planning the food and drinks. Get the numbers wrong, it won’t go over well. Whether it's a large party or a small one, it can be difficult knowing how much food to prepare. But with a little help, it doesn’t have to be! 

Key: Here is a handy chart brought to you by the PlanningHelpers to help you make sure you prepare enough food and drinks depending on the number of guests you will be accommodating.

Food Items
Portions per Person
Hors d’oeuvres if meal to follow
Total of 2 to 3 pieces per person per hour
Heavy hors d’oeuvres as a meal
Total of 5 to 6 pieces per person per hour   Less after 2nd hour
Chilled salads
4 ounces per person
Hot side dishes
3 to 4 ounces per person   
Less if more side dishes served
Pasta as an entrée
6 to 8 ounces per person
Lunch entrée
4 to 6 ounces per person
Dinner entrée
6 to 8 ounces per person
3 to 4 ounces per person
Dinner Rolls or Bread
2 per person
Added tip: When you are serving a heavy hors d’oeuvres for the meal, add another substantial food item to the menu, like pasta. Carbs and other filling foods can help lower the amount of hors d’oeuvres you need to keep you guests happy and full.

Type of Beverage   
Number of Servings in Each
Ordering ONE type of beverage for
4 hrs. to 50 people
1 case = (24) 12-ounce servings
8 cases
750 ml bottle = (6) 4-ounce glasses
34 bottles
750 ml bottle = (15 to 18) 1-ounce pours per bottle
13 bottles + assorted mixes
1 gallon = (18) 1-cup servings
 3 gallons
1-liter bottle = (11) 6-ounce glasses
18 bottles
1 case = (24) 12-ounce cans of (2) 6-ounce servings
4 cases
1 gallon = (32) 4-ounce servings
6 gallons
750 ml bottle = (6) 4-ounce glasses
9 bottles for 1 toast
Added Tip: If you decide to offer a soft bar, remember that it is more expensive than a full bar. A soft bar will serve only six pours out of a bottle of wine, whereas a liquor bottle will have 15 to 18 pours. Also, don’t forget to order enough soda and water for your guests, people will prefer non-alcoholic beverages later in the evening.

Ordering food and beverages for your event doesn’t have to be difficult! With a little help and some positive encouragement, you’ll have happy guests and a great event! For more event guides, be sure to stay tuned to Inspherio. We’re on a mission to be your best crew!

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