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Apr 23, 2012 01:43 PM

Catering question re party for 30-40 people

I have been asked to cater a "Celebration of Life" memorial/party in a few weeks. The host is anticipating 30 guests. The party will last about three hours (1pm-4pm). The request is for light refreshments. For personal reasons, no alcohol will be served.

My quandry is quantity. How much do I need for "light refreshments"? The menu so far:

- assorted fruit platter (grapes, berries, whatever else might be in season)
- veggie platter (asparagus, radish coins, carrots, snap peas, endive with a green goddess type dip)
- sliced cheese and salami platter with crackers
- assortment of tea sandwiches (tuna, egg salad, chicken salad, cucumber)
- mini cupcakes
- beverage service (one gallon each of iced tea or lemonade, and iced water)

I thought of arranging one platter each of the assorted fruit, veggies and cheese/salami. For sandwiches, I'm thinking 3-4 sandwiches per person. Then, I'm making one cake recipe which yields about 5 dozen mini cupcakes if I measure properly.

How am I looking, too much? Not enough? I appreciate your input.


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  1. Sounds just right actually. Good job!

    1. Sounds great! Assuming you are not actually in the Antarctic, you might want more beverages... A gallon each of tea and lemonade, extra water.

      1 Reply
      1. re: firecooked

        firecooked, I only assume my "widow" status when my husband is working on the Ice, otherwise I happily reside on the mainland. The host said she might provide some additional beverages, not sure what she has in mind though. I'll most likely bring more than a gallon of each, that is just the capacity of the containers I have.

      2. I have no formal experience catering but have been the "church lady" in charge of receptions held at church after a memorial service or funeral. One thing I have learned is that the age of the guests can have a huge impact on the amount of food consumed. If the deceased was quite elderly and there are mostly elderly guests expected, the amount of food consumed will be less than if it is a younger crowd. And for older guests, coffee/tea seems to be expected, at least where we are (Pacific NW).

        The menu sounds lovely...good luck!

        2 Replies
        1. re: jlhinwa

          I agree about the coffee...no matter what else you have a handful want coffee.
          Everything sounds lovely except the one gallon tea / one gallon lemonade...only 16 cups in a gallon and people drink more in situtaions like that...out of nervousness, set a glass down / get another, spill something, etc. You should at min. have enough for one cup per person per hour....AT THE VERY LEAST.

          1. re: jlhinwa

            jlhinwa and lala ... coffee is a great idea. I didn't think of it because I don't drink coffee past noon, it keeps me up late and I tend to be an earlier riser. I'll see if I can get a clue about the age group of these folks. I'm suspecting they will be somewhere between 40-60 years old, both men and women. I now plan to bring enough to fill up each beverage container at least once, the containers I have only have a one gallon capacity.

          2. If you have elderly folks in attendance, you may want to nix the veggie platter in favor of a platter of cookies to go with the afore-suggested coffee. A large urn of coffee and a large urn of hot water with caffeinated/decaf or herbal tea bags, and a jar or packets of Sanka, would be popular.

            3 Replies
            1. re: pinehurst

              pinehurst, I'm not too keen on the veggie platter myself, but the host requested one be provided. It's one of the last things that ever get eaten at a party, but as other platters run out, it will eventually be chowed down. Tea is a lovely idea, and I do have some thermal carafes I can fill with hot water.

              1. re: AntarcticWidow

                I think the vegie platter is a very good idea and I'm glad you are serving it. To me it is a staple with the type of food you're serving. They go a long way, are colorful and tasty to boot.

                1. re: AntarcticWidow

                  i think the type of things you are putting on your veggie platter sounds yummy!

              2. As mentioned, Definately, have coffee and it will make a difference in the ages of the attendees.