Whether you’re having people over to watch the big game or the basketball tournament, buffet-style dining is the way to go. Buffets are easier to prepare for and manage than sit-down dinners, and everyone will probably be glued to the TV anyway, so self-serve eats are essential. Follow this guide to entertain large groups of people with ease.
Buffet Prep by the Numbers
A big worry for any hostess is running out of food or drink. Use our basic guide to help make calculations based on the number of party guests:
- A general rule is to prepare more food for a buffet than a sit-down meal because guests tend to eat more. However, the more selections available, the fewer people will take of any one item because they will want to taste everything
- If you serve appetizers or finger foods before the buffet, calculate three to five servings per person
- If you’re serving 25 to 30 people, a basic buffet menu could include two 9-inch by 13-inch casseroles (or one casserole plus a meat dish), two large salads, rolls (one per person) and two to three desserts
- For a pasta buffet, calculate about 2 ounces per person if it’s being served as a side dish or about 4 ounces if it’s the main course
Tip: Prepare party dips early in the day and refrigerate them in containers to make replenishing empty plates a breeze.
What About Beverages?
When planning beverages, know your crowd. In general, calculate about one drink per hour per guest. For a party where guests will be standing or moving around a lot, plan on four to five drinking cups per person. You’ll need about 1 pound of ice for every four to six guests.
6 Tips for a Successful Buffet
- Avoid food that requires a knife for eating
- If you serve salad, provide tongs rather than a spoon – it’s easier for guests to manage with plates in their hands
- Make sure you have enough oven and refrigerator space for preparations. If not, ask a neighbor if you can borrow some space
- Arrange all the dishes you plan to use on the table ahead of time to make sure there’s enough room for all the food
- Think about the flow of the buffet, especially if you’re expecting more than 10 people. Place disposable cups, sturdy disposable plates, plastic utensils and Bounty napkins at one end of the serving table, and make the serving trays accessible on both long sides of the table so a line can form on each side
- Make cleanup easy by having a few essentials on hand: Cascade Platinum ActionPacs for washing serving trays and cookware that are dishwasher safe, Bounty paper towels for any food or drink spills, and a Swiffer WetJet for cleaning grime and dirt from your floors from all that extra foot traffic
Tip: You can always rely on friends to supplement your table with their own dishes. If someone asks if they can bring something, take them up on the offer!
How do you feed a large group? Share your best tips and party ideas in the comments section!