How to Determine How Much Food to Order for an Event

food per person

Determining the how much food to order for an event is both an art and a science. A well-fed guest is a happy guest, but no one wants mountains of wasted food at the end of the night. Let’s discuss strategies for estimating how much to order, ensuring that everyone leaves your event satisfied. 

Calculate the Number of Guests 

Your first, most crucial task is to know your audience size. Is your event an intimate gathering or a full-blown celebration? The number of attendees provides the foundation for all your food and drink calculations.

RSVP Early: 

Make sure your invitations go out well in advance and ask for RSVPs sooner rather than later. This strategy not only gives you ample time to prepare but also makes it easier for your guests to confirm attendance.

Add a Buffer: 

Even with RSVPs, there’s always a chance that more (or fewer) people will show up. As a rule of thumb, add an additional 5-10% to your guest list to ensure you have enough food and drink.

The event platform, Eventbrite, states that tailoring your menu to your audience’s specific needs and preferences can be a game-changer in overall satisfaction.

Decide on the Type of Food & Drink You Want to Serve

Armed with your estimated guest count, it’s time to decide what  kind of food and drink choices you’ll offer.

Sit-Down vs. Buffet:

A sit-down meal often necessitates a more substantial amount of food since portions are pre-set. By contrast, buffets allow people to pick and choose, usually resulting in less waste.

Day or Night: 

Breakfast and lunch events often require lighter fare than dinners. The timing can significantly impact the type and amount of food and drink you’ll need.

Special Requests:

Do your guests require vegan or gluten-free options? Do any of your guests have nut allergies?Always keep an eye out for special dietary needs. Make sure to order some alternative options to cover all bases.

For those looking to diversify their drink options, The Spruce Eats recommends  ordering half bottles of wine, particularly for smaller events, to offer variety without creating waste.

Calculate Quantities for Each Option

Now we come to the challenging part: breaking down the numbers.


For a one-hour event, aim for 5-6 appetizer pieces per person. For longer events, you might want to add a couple of extra pieces per hour.

Main Course:

For buffet-style events, 1.5 servings per person should suffice. For sit-down dinners, one plate per guest is generally adequate.


Include at least two side options. Plan on one serving per person for each of the sides. 


Offer one full-size dessert per person, or 2-3 smaller portions if you’re providing a variety.  


Aim for 2-3 beverages per person for the first two hours, plus one additional beverage per hour after that. Include a mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic choices to cater to everyone’s preferences.

Coffee and Tea:

If your event extends into the evening or is more formal, consider offering coffee and tea. A single large urn can usually serve about 50 cups.

Event Planning: Your Success with The Inlet North Wildwood

The success of your event hinges on various factors,  including the food and drink. Accurate planning means fewer headaches later and a smoother, more enjoyable experience for your guests.

If you’ve got an upcoming event and the idea of catering it is daunting,  don’t worry! The Inlet North Wildwood  offers a wide array of catering solutions to fit every type of gathering.

Your satisfaction and peace of mind are our top priorities. Let’s work together to make your event a memorable one!

Ready to cross food and drink planning off your to-do list? Contact us to secure your date and ensure your event’s success. 




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