View Full Version : How do you know how much to make?

09-04-2001, 03:04 PM
How much food do I need to make to feed 300 on appetizers?
DH and I are hosting a cocktail-type party and are planning to invite around 300 people. I'm making the appetizers (its an appetizers and drinks party) and have no idea how much to make!

Here is an example...I just made a triple batch of Martha Stewart's spinach balls, so graciously posted by lindrusso ;) and only got around 75 balls. Now, I know that can't be enough! Would 3 more batches of 75 be enough (300)? Or should I make extra because some people might eat more than one? We are going to have a large variety of food, so do I have to make at least 300 of everything?

Any advice on entertaining for this large of a group would be much appreciated. TIA!

09-04-2001, 03:17 PM
I think that one of my Silver Palate cookbooks has guidelines for how many "bites" to offer per person at cocktail parties. You definitely won't need to make 300 of everything, though!

I'll look it up tonight and post tomorrow, but I bet that someone else on the board will beat me to it! ;)

09-04-2001, 03:43 PM
Ok - I am no expert & I have never cooked for that many, but I have made app.'s for 150 each Christmas for the last 5 years. We probably had about 12 different appetizers, but only single or double recipes for them. (Single recipes for dips usually, & double for sausage balls, quiches, etc. )
Will it be dinner time - are people subbing your food for dinner?
If so, then you'll need heavier appetizers. For instance, we had a plate of mini chicken fingers, pork tenderloin with little rolls & sauce, lots of dips & crackers or chips or veggies or fruit, maybe tortellini in pesto to be eaten with toothpicks, mini quiches, etc.
You definitely don't need 300 of everything. Think about yourself at a party - how much do you eat? Sometimes that helps me, then realize that not everyone will eat everything.
I once heard 6 pieces of whatever appetizer per person if it is before dinner. I would maybe mentally double or triple that. Also keep in mind that if you run out of spinach balls, that's OK - you've got 10 other things on the table to be eaten.
Hopefully that will help some. Maybe someone out there will have an exact answer.

09-04-2001, 03:47 PM
Not that I have ever taken on serving 300 people- kudos to you- per Betty Crocker- 4-5 appetizers per person per hour.

Have a great party!


09-04-2001, 04:00 PM
I do a New Year's Eve party every year for about 150 people and I agree with what Leanne wrote. I do pork tenerloins and a 1# tenderloin will serve about 8-10 as an appetizer (I usually do 6 but I always hope to have leftovers so I don't have to cook the next day). I do about 12 different appetizers (1/2 hot & 1/2 cold) and half of those are not finger foods (rather they are dips, cheeseball, savory cheesecake), then there is usually a fruit & cheese tray and a tray of crudite. As far as the finger foods I make enough to serve about half the number of guests...always leave them wanting more!

09-04-2001, 04:29 PM
The only time I ever entertained that many was at my wedding, and I dont remember it.....


09-04-2001, 04:48 PM
I didn't even have that many at my wedding, and I didn't do the cooking.

I'll check a few other books later, but the ones I have handy at the computer either don't give guidelines, or you don't want to hear them (I found one book that said 6-8 different kinds with enough of each for each guest to have 3 pieces of each kind). :eek:

Lynn B
09-04-2001, 05:18 PM

Are you having them all to your home?!!!! (You go, girl!!!) :)


09-04-2001, 07:08 PM
The caterers I've worked with use three pieces of each appetizer per person as a rule of thumb, but when it comes to popular items like shrimp you probably can't make enough!

Good luck with your party!

09-05-2001, 04:35 AM
Originally posted by Beth
I didn't even have that many at my wedding, and I didn't do the cooking.

OOh, please dont get me wrong...there were that many there, BUt I DEFINATELY didnt do the cooking......

09-05-2001, 07:39 AM
It is our wedding reception--hence the large numbers. (We got married in July out in the mountains with 10 family members in attendance--perfect!!) We are inviting over 300...and are hoping closer to 200 come! I've never cooked for this many either. I'm a little frightened that the rules of thumb say 3 pieces of each per person--I'll really need to get cooking if that is true! :eek:

I am planning to have a server there to keep everything stocked as well as a bartender. The party is in Bart's parent's backyard garden--should be nice. People might be subbing our appetizers for their dinners (although the party is supposed to end at 7 p.m.), so I am planning some heavier-type finger foods.

Here is what I am thinking so far...I plan to cut back or expand as the RSVP cards start coming in...

Honeybaked ham with rolls/cheese/sauce/whatever
Hot wings from the local pub
Mexican cheesecake (2)
Reuben dip (3) --my mom is making this
Mango chutney cheese balls --posted here and previously a big hit when I made one for a fundraiser (2)
Spinach balls
Mushroom crescents
Cheese crisps (from Epicurious.com)
Spanakopitas (sp?)
Red pepper hummus and pitas
Fruit skewers, crudites
Texas sheet cakes in vanilla and chocolate--the full fatty ones!

Please let me know if you have any more ideas!!! Things that can be made ahead and frozen would be great, as I'm starting already for a party in October! Thanks for your tips. :)

09-05-2001, 07:43 AM
Here's the Silver Palate guideline to add to the mix of advice you're receiving.

4 bites per person when dinner is to follow.

10 bites per person for a cocktail party.

12-15 bites for something like a wedding reception or other gala affair.

I once hosted a cocktail party for 50 people and was darn proud of myself for pulling it off. I can't even imagine 300! I do recall that I prepared about 12 bites per person and I had some leftovers of things like dip, but every single "bite" (like phyllo triangles, stuffed mushrooms, etc.) was consumed. Some people ate far less than 12 bites... others made up for it and then some!

The Betty Crocker guideline that Molli posted sounds reasonable too.

Wow... if you have 300 people and they each eat 10 bites... 3000 bites!

I hope you're getting help with both preparing the food and serving it! Do tell us more about what you're planning!

09-05-2001, 07:47 AM
I love to give cocktail parties. I have found that people really like bite sized appetizers so that they can just pick something up and move on. Don't use crackers that are too large for your dips and spreads. You can purchase meatballs at Sams and make your own sauce. I have found it better to have numerous items as to replace things as they are eaten. You don't want to leave things out on a table too long. Have a great party.

10-09-2001, 12:10 PM

I just ran across this on the web and remembered your post. I am in the process of planning a couple of large cocktail parties and stumbled upon this.

How many appetizers to make per person for a dinner or cocktail party?

by Cheryl Brown of Gourmet Magazine


Cocktail Party: 12 appetizers per person
Dinner Party: 6 appetizers per person
A fairly standard formula is used among caterers to figure out how many appetizers are needed from each recipe.

12 pieces per person times the number of people divided by the number of different appetizers. (When they are being served before a full dinner, halve the totals.)

If the guest list has fewer than 45 people, plan on using roughly 6 different appetizers; for more than 45 guests, 8 types. The rule of thumb for smaller gatherings is that 3 types are suitable for 8 to 10 guests; 4 or 5 for 14 to 16 people.

Having an equal number of hot and cold foods is also helpful so that while one appetizer is heating in the oven, a cold one can be circulating, keeping everyone nibbling happily.

10-10-2001, 03:24 AM
Twice a year I make mini eggrolls, an Asian recipe that was made for me by a former student. There are no real amounts but you sautee ground pork with minced onion and garlic. Drain the fat. Then add soy sauce with corn starch to thicken. Cool and refrigerate overnight or for a few hours to thicken even more. Wrap small eggroll wrappers and quickly deep fry and drain. I keep these wrapped in paper towels, aluminum foil, and a freezer bag. They last six months, you just bake them in the oven for about 10 minutes (frozen not defrosted). These are very easy to make can be made ahead of time. Not much prep, either!!

10-10-2001, 12:23 PM
I love the silver palate cookbok. It has saved my life.