How Much Food And Drinks Do You Actually Need For A Party?

One of the worst parts about planning a party is figuring out what food you’re going to serve! But once you determine the type of food you’re going to have, you have to figure out how much food you’re going to need to serve everyone. You don’t want to have a huge amount leftover that’s going to go to waste and you also don’t want to not have enough food to serve to your guests! So how to you figure out the calculation of food to guests? No worries, we’ve figured out a simple solution for you!


First things first, when sending out your invites, make sure you state that the guests need to RSVP if they plan to attend and if so, how many people they may be bringing. Also, make sure you send these out way ahead of time so you can give people enough time to respond to you. If you’re reading this, don’t be one of those people who don’t RSVP to anything and expect their to be enough food for them! By doing this you’ll get a general idea of how many people you’re actually going to need to feed.

2. Male or Female?

We’re not trying to be gender biased but men tend to eat more than women most of the times! So, if you’re planning a party where the ratio is 2 men to 1 woman, know that this will play into how much food you need to have at your party or get-together. If it’s a children’s party, you obviously know you won’t have to purchase as much food for them.

3. Time

Is your party in the afternoon of later in the day?  The time of your party has a huge impact on how much you’ll need to serve for your guests. If you host a party at 2:00 pm, you may only need some light snacks or appetizers to hold your guests over while they’re at the party. Say you’ve got a 5:00 pm party or get-together, your guests are going to expect to be fed, that’s a given! You’re going to need much more food, especially if they’re adults that are drinking.

4. Buffet Tips

If you’re planning on serving a buffet style meal, you don’t need to go overboard with it. You may be thinking, “well, it’s a buffet so everyone is going to take a ton of food for themselves!” This usually isn’t the case. When people are going through a buffet, they tend to take a small amount of each food item and sometimes none at all if they don’t like that certain type of food.

Money Saving Tip: Don’t purchase big plates! If the plates your guest are using are smaller plates they obviously can’t put as much food on their plate! And people tend to put too much food on a big plate and it goes to waste anyways.

Now For The Calculations 

This a basic guide to calculate the general amount of food and drinks you’ll need to make sure everyone gets food at your party.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

  • Each person will consume about two drinks per hour during the party

(If you serve drinks in smaller glasses, people are less likely to waste the beverage in their cup)

Alcoholic Beverages

  • Adults tend to drink one alcoholic beverage each hour at the party

And as you know, people almost always eat more when they are drinking, especially at night. So, make sure you take this into consideration when purchasing food.


  • Adult – 1 lb. of Food
  • Child – 1/2 Pound of Food

P.S. This is just a rough estimation!


If you do choose to serve appetizers at your party, the general calculation for how many you need is:

  • # of guests x 6 = how many appetizers you should have available

A party hack: instead of taking extra time to prepare and cook fancy appetizers, set out snacky foods like nuts, chex mix, pretzel that will keep them full until the main course is prepared


The post How Much Food And Drinks Do You Actually Need For A Party? appeared first on How to Plan a Party, Party Ideas & Activities.

Back to blog