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Plan the perfect party with tips from an expert

Entertaining food flat lay

Working out how much food you need for a cocktail party can be daunting. While there are no hard and fast equations, expert food editor Emma Knowles shares these key things to consider:

  1. The time and duration of the party will affect how much food you need to provide. A cocktail party in the afternoon demands less food than one that spans several hours and extends across meal time. Six bites per person is ideal for a shorter party, while for a longer party, 4-6 bites per person, per hour is a good guideline.
  2. The longer your party, and the larger the guest list, the more selections you should offer. Think about a balance of meat, seafood and vegetarian, and a mix of hot and cold items. A sweet option or two served toward the end of the party is a subtle way of winding things up as it indicates the food is coming to an end.
  3. Rather than relying on food being handed around, it pays to have a few platters or boards dotted around the room for guests to help themselves to – think cheese platters, a charcuterie board or a selection of dips and crudites.
  4. If you’re planning a party that will go into the wee hours, it’s worth considering serving a second round of more substantial items (hint: sliders and great sausage rolls always hit the spot!). 

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