Feeding a Crowd

How much food do you need?

The cardinal sin of entertaining is running out of refreshments, but you don't want to be eating leftovers for weeks. Here's how to estimate portions for your next dinner party.

  • Plan on each guest consuming three alcoholic drinks, and make sure to provide non-alcoholic drinks as well.
  • If you're serving a meal, allow 4 to 6 hors d'oeuvres per guest. But if you're only serving hors d'oeuvres and cocktails, you should count on at least 12 pieces per guest.
  • As a general rule, a portion of meat is 1/4 to 1/3 pounds per person.
  • Estimate about 1/2 cup of vegetables, rice, pasta or salad per guest.
  • Unless you know otherwise, assume you'll have at least one vegetarian guest. Make sure to have some hearty meatless options available.
  • Prepare some dishes that can be served at room temperature, so you don't have to worry about your hot entree getting cold or your ice-cream dessert melting.
  • After a large meal, a 9-inch pie or tart will serve 8 to 10 people.