Hostesses With The Mostest > Entertaining and Hospitality

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MommyPenguin:
My husband is in the military and is making a new rank this week.  According to tradition, when somebody makes rank (at least at this location; I'm not sure if this is standard everywhere) I'm supposed to provide snacks and drinks, usually like cake and cookies, for 50-70 people.

So, I'm looking for advice mostly about calculations about how much to provide.  I have a cake pan that is 11 x 15 and fits two boxes' worth of cake mix, and I borrowed a second from my mom.  My thought was that that gives me 330 square inches of cake, which would feed 82 at a 4 sq. inch piece, or 55 at a 6 sq. inch piece.  I might end up with some leftover cake, but I think it's a safer bet than doing a single pan and having only 165 square inches of cake.   Anybody have any better way of estimating cake?  Also, since I use two cake mixes per pan, I was thinking to make one cake all yellow, and the other either half chocolate and half yellow, or marbled.  Thoughts on this?  It always seems like we end up with a lot of chocolate leftover at parties if we make half and half, and our family would rather leftover yellow!

Next, cookies.  I'm guessing that people will probably mostly have one slice of cake and 1-2 cookies.  does this sound reasonable?  I'm not quite sure how many cookies to make, because 1-2 cookies for 50-70 people is a range of 50-140!  So I'm thinking maybe around 8 dozen, as 96 would be sort of in the middle there.  Maybe 5 dozen chocolate chip and 3 dozen oatmeal raisin?

Last is drinks.  We're having trouble finding anything that estimates how much a person will drink at a party.  I'm thinking maybe 10 2-liters, a couple of bottles of juice, some lemonade in a punch bowl, and some ice water in pitchers.  Does this sound reasonable?  How would you distribute the 2-liters?  Maybe 4 coke, 1 diet coke, 1 sprite, 1 dr. Pepper, and... One more of one of those?  Or something else?

If the distribution matters, the attendants will be us and our kids, both sets of our parents, and lots and lots of government workers taking a break from their jobs.  So largely adult males but a fair number of women as well.

Thanks so much for any advice you can give!

camlan:
I'm afraid I can't help with the cake.

I'd make at least 100 cookies. You can always freeze the leftovers.

And I'd fill things out a bit with a bag or two of pretzels or some other salty snack, for those who don't like sweets.

Just to make things easier on yourself, I wouldn't offer quite so many beverage choices. Maybe the 10 2-liter bottles of soda, then either juice or lemonade, and water. For the soda, I'd get a few more diet bottles, at least one diet cola and one diet non-cola, plus one more. Unless you know this crowd doesn't do diet, in my experience, the diet sodas are popular.

At events like this, I've been getting a good deal of mileage out of a candy bowl. Get individually wrapped candies and mix them up. Get the candies people don't tend to buy for themselves a lot--those caramel cream bullseyes, or Jolly Ranchers, or Tootsie Rolls, or lollipops, or Smarties--check out the bulk candy section in your supermarket. It's surprising how many people like to be able to choose a piece or two of their favorite candy. The candy bowl is a little different and I've gotten several compliments on it.

veryfluffy:
I think estimating 1 piece of cake that is two inches by inches, and a couple of cookies, per person is probably not going to be enough.

I recently had a party with about forty guests, on a Sunday afternoon from 2 until 6 pm, so not a meal time. I provided breads and sliced roasted meats, quiches and roulades for anyone who'd missed lunch...and I had 8 different cakes (homemade, but about the size of one standard mix cake each), each cut into about 12 or 16 slices. Most people there ate food, and then cake...anywhere from about 4 to 11 pieces each.

NyaChan:
I really like camlan's candy idea.

Have you considered doing one yellow cake with chocolate frosting and then a non-chocolate cake? Maybe white cake or caramel.  That way you aren't stuck with the chocolate cake at the end if you don't like it as much.

I think the 8 dozen is a good number for the cookies - between cake, candy, and cookies I think people should be able to find something they like and you can freeze the leftovers.  Personally, I would do some sugar or snickerdoodle cookies as well as the chocolate and oatmeal raisin, but that is just my preference.

No need to go crazy on the drink choices.  I think soda and water is sufficient, but lemonade sounds nice too.  I agree with camlan that unless you have reason to think it won't be used, some more diet might come in handy.

**Just saw what veryfluffly posted:  if this is a tradition, isn't there someone on base who can give you an idea of how much they made in the past when their family was hosting?  That might be more helpful than what we can tell you.

jpcher:
I think that a 4 square inch piece of cake is a decent sized serving. (I'm impressed with your math at figuring this out!)

I also think that you should make all of it the same kind of cake (yellow.) You don't want guests to say "Darn! I didn't get any chocolate cake!"

For varied flavors, you could mix up the frostings. 1/4 Vanilla, 1/4 Chocolate, 1/4 Lemon, 1/4 maybe a nutty something.

Or simply 1/2 Vanilla, 1/2 chocolate frosting on the yellow cake. (For simplicity sake, this would be the way I would go.)

Another thought, to step it up a notch, is to make all yellow cake with vanilla frosting and have various toppings available . . . strawberries, coconut, chocolate syrup, nuts, etc.

Your amount for cookies (96) sounds about right to me. Since cookies are an added extra to the cake, maybe this is where you should provide some gluten-free cookies? Just in case? 8 doz. cookies -- 3 chocolate chip, 3 oatmeal raisin, 2 gluten free. Clearly mark the gluten free.

I agree on camlan's thoughts about the drinks. Too many choices.

Actually, I think I'd leave the soda out all together and serve Iced Tea, Lemonade, Water . . . and Coffee! Coffee and sweets go well together.