Quick Reference Guide for Party Menus

By Margaret Rench

Deciding what food and how much to serve for a party is stressful. Remember:

  • The guests are there to mingle with each other and with you. Food is important, but it's not the end of the world if you forget to make something or if something doesn't turn out right.

  • Make things that you are comfortable cooking and that you have had success with. If the only thing you can cook is spaghetti, then serve spaghetti and splurge on some fancy bakery desserts!

Snacks and Appetizers

If you are having an adult party plan on 4-6 snacks per guest. If it's a child's party you can plan on less. Try to have a variety of 3-4 items. Frozen meatballs cooked in a crock pot with brown gravy are an easy treat! Cheese cut into fun shapes, crackers, shrimp, mini pizzas, deviled eggs, even fruit or vegetable trays would be fine.


Buy pre-made salad for the party. Add some carrots, radishes and onions before serving. The size of the bag and your guest count will give you an idea of how much to buy. From my experience there is usually salad left over. Don't forget the salad dressings.


If you are feeding children plan on two finger sandwiches per child. Peanut butter and jelly cut into shapes with cookie cutters is a fun way to serve them. If you are feeding adults, you will want to plan on one and a half full size sandwiches per person. Peanut butter and jelly might not go over well with adults. Try ham and cheese, Italian meats with olive oil, tuna or meatballs.

Meat dishes

This is not the time to try out new dishes. Make something you have cooked before and that others loved. If serving boneless fish, meat or poultry plan on approx. 4-6 ounces per person.


Fancy bread rolls are a nice touch for any dinner party. You can expect each guest to eat two if they are small, one if they are large. Buy frozen dough and cook them right before you serve the dinner. The smell will really add to the atmosphere. You could also serve French bread or bagel slices. Plan on two loafs of French bread to feed 10-12 people.


Make sure you have plenty of salt, pepper, mustard, catchup, relish, jelly, olives, steak sauce, and salad dressing. You never know what a guest is going to want on their food. Put items into small bowls and set around the serving area.


Isn't this what everyone is really after! Come on admit it, you'd skip the rest of the food, just to have the dessert. I would and have! Count on one portion of cake or pie per guest. A normal round cake will serve 8-10; a ¼ sheet cake will serve approximately 12-15 guests.


You can plan on one 9 oz. drink per child. Keep some extra bottled water and boxed fruit drinks on hand. Try to have a variety of drinks on hand for an adult party. If you don't want to supply beer or wine, but don't mind if your guests drink, there is nothing wrong with a "bring your own" note in the invitation if it's a non-formal get together. You can safely provide diet and regular soda and bottled water.


For more party tips and theme party ideas, visit Margarets' website: http://www.theme-party-palace.com/index.html.


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