by Jonathan Vatner | November 01, 2003


Food and Beverage 

Beverages (morning)

Amount to serve:
1 gallon regular coffee per 30 attendees; 1 gallon decaf per 75 attendees; 1 gallon hot water per 75 attendees

Tips to remember:
1 gallon fills 21 6-oz. cups, 16 8-oz. cups or 10 12-oz. cups. Put out small cups, and attendees will consume less. Many planners also offer juice and bottled water; some are beginning to offer sodas.

Beverages (breaks)

Amount to serve:
1 gallon regular coffee per 50 attendees; 1 gallon decaf per 50 attendees; 1 gallon hot water per 75 attendees

Tips to remember: Provide soft drinks and bottled water for 70 percent of group; order bottled water and soft drinks by consumption.

Beverages (evening banquet)

Amount to serve:
1 gallon regular coffee per 30 attendees; 1 gallon decaf per 30 attendees; 1-2.5 alcoholic drinks per person, per hour at an open bar

Tips to remember:
There are 25 1-oz. drinks in a 750 mL bottle, 33 1-oz. drinks in a 1 L bottle and 4-5 glasses of wine per 750 mL bottle. Size of drinks can vary greatly among bartenders; use a pouring-control system to contain costs.

Breakfast Breads

Amount to serve:
Order one item (bagel, muffin or pastry) for 75 percent of attendees. In other words, for 100 people, you’ll need 75 pieces.

Tips to remember:
Muffins and bagels are the most popular items. Minimize pastries, unless they look particularly appetizing. Order on the low side, because it is usually simple to add more cold foods when depleted. Also, put the buffet table outside the meeting room to discourage attendees from returning to the buffet once the meeting begins.

Lunch/dinner buffet

Amount to serve:
0.8-1.5 entrées per person; 1 beverage station per 75-100 guests; 1 food station per 75-100 guests

Tips to remember:
Estimate 50 percent beef, 40-45 percent chicken or fish, and 5-10 percent vegetarian.

Passed hors d’oeuvres

Amount to serve:
Before dinner: 4-6 per person, or one of each kind per person. Reception only: 8-12 per person

Tips to remember:
To conserve on food, butler-pass hors d’oeuvres instead of putting them out buffet-style

Staffing

Service ratios:
1 bartender per 75-100 attendees; 1 cocktail server per 50 attendees; 1 waiter per each of the following: 50 attendees (reception), 40 attendees (breakfast buffet), 30 attendees (lunch/dinner buffet), 25 attendees (plated breakfast), 20 attendees (plated lunch/dinner), 15 attendees (upscale dinner with wine)

Your notes:Note: These guidelines were compiled with the help of the following sources: The Convention Industry Council Manual, 7th Edition (from the CIC, based in McLean, Va.); Dallas-based Meeting Professionals International’s Comfort Calculator; Twinsburg, Ohio-based Conferon’s “Guide to Meeting Management”; Professional Meeting Management, published by the Chicago-based Professional Convention Management Association; and planners Tim Ball, CMP, president of Washington, D.C.-based Everett/Reed Meetings & Events; Karen Jennings and Tom Albrecht, co-owners of Williamsburg, Mich.-based Meeting Site Solutions; and Jennifer Knapp, vice president of sales and marketing of St. Louis-based MAC Meetings & Events.