Have Enough Appetizers?

How to calculate how much food to prepare when hosting a cocktail party.


You’ve set the date, invited the guests, and planned the menu of appetizers you will be serving. Now one question remains — how much food should you prepare?

We recently had a chance to sit down with Gwen McKee, author along with Barbara Moseley of Fast & Fabulous Party Foods and Appetizers, to discuss her approach to creating mouth-watering party foods that will not have you slaving in the kitchen or ready to swear off hosting cocktail parties. Read on for her tips on calculating how much food to prepare for a cocktail party, along with three of her favorite go-to party appetizers that can be made in no time.

When hosting a cocktail party, how much food to make depends on:

1. How many dishes you plan on serving.

“The greater the number, the smaller the amount of each you will need,” Gwen explains. “I like to err on the side of having too much food, and am not hesitant to send leftovers home with the last guests to leave.” Generally, plan for each guest to have four things to eat per hour of the party. If you’re hosting a cocktail party for ten from six p.m. to eight p.m. and making four different appetizers, make sure you have 20 servings or pieces of each.

2. What time of day you're hosting the party.

According to Gwen, hosting a party around lunch or dinner necessitates that “heavy, nourishing foods like meaty things and trays with sandwiches, fruits, and salads” are served. However, with a party that starts at 8:00 p.m. or later, you can usually get away with serving finger foods.  

3. The ages of your guests.

“Anybody younger than 40 will consume lots of food, whereas an older group will nibble on smaller quantities of bite-sized foods,” Gwen explains. No matter what age your guests are, be sure to offer a balanced array of foods so no one fills up on something overly rich or not substantial enough. Serving cocktails? It is also wise have something carbohydrate-rich, like mini pizzas, polenta cakes, arancini, or even a warm cheesecake-like spread with crackers or crostini, so your cocktail doesn't get the better of you. 

Click here for the Savory Pepper Jelly Cheesecake recipe.

Click here for the Sweetie Meat Bites recipe.

Click here for the Ranchero Sausage Stars recipe.


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