How to: Portion for a Party
One of the toughest challenges of planning a party is deciding how much food to buy and prepare for your guests. The first step is determining how many people will be attending. Next, decide the length of the party, the type of party, and type of people that will be attending. For instance, a predominantly male crowd will need bigger portions than a predominantly female crowd. According to Candice Chan, half of Toronto-based luxury event planners Candice & Alison, for a four-hour cocktail-style event, six hors d’oeuvres per person should suffice. For a barbecue, ribs are the easiest meat to portion, and usually come down to six ribs per person. If you’re cooking brisket, figure for a ¼ pound of brisket per person. As for side dishes like salad and pasta, a few ounces per person will be more than enough. Chan also stresses that running out of food is a huge faux pas, so don’t be afraid to have a small surplus of food for guests with larger appetites and unexpected arrivals.
Much like portioning food, the key to portioning drinks for a party depends on what kind of crowd you’re expecting, and how long the party will last. Chan recommends one drink per guest per hour. “This will balance out between lighter and heavier drinkers, and those who stay for the full party as opposed to those who simply drop in and out,” she says. Running out of drinks may be an even bigger disaster than running out of food, so Chan suggests adding a 20% buffer, just to be safe. Vodka, wine and beer tend to be the most popular choices, but be sure to keep smaller amounts of other liquors like whisky and rum just to be safe. Unopened bottles of booze can usually be returned, depending on where you live. Also, be sure to have non-alcoholic options readily available for Mormons, teetotallers, pregnant women and others who abstain from the sauce. Citrusy Italian sodas and sparkling water usually go over well. – DB