Author Topic: Buying for a cake and cookies reception  (Read 3746 times)

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MommyPenguin

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Buying for a cake and cookies reception
« on: June 02, 2013, 02:10:45 PM »
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!
« Last Edit: June 04, 2013, 02:45:05 PM by MommyPenguin »

camlan

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Re: Buying for a cake and cookies reception
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2013, 02:29:23 PM »
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.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


veryfluffy

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Re: Buying for a cake and cookies reception
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2013, 02:34:21 PM »
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

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Re: Buying for a cake and cookies reception
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2013, 02:37:40 PM »
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

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Re: Buying for a cake and cookies reception
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2013, 03:20:49 PM »
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.


Congrats! ;D to your DH!

And good luck to you for throwing a wonderful party! Whatever you do will be awesome! ;D




(two posts while I was typing . . . posting anyway.)

rose red

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Re: Buying for a cake and cookies reception
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2013, 07:02:23 PM »
One slice of cake and 2 cookies per person sound good.  But I agree it's a good idea to round it out with salty snacks too.  Pretzel was mentioned.  Popcorn is also good.  Those can fill several bowls inexpensively.

Craftymom

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Re: Buying for a cake and cookies reception
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2013, 09:31:37 PM »
Your cake pan sounds like a 1/2 sheet size.
In realistic slice size, (the 2x2 inch mentioned by another poster) that means feeds 24-30.
I would do fewer drink choices, make it easier on yourself.
Also, do not worry about leftovers. They will disappear quickly.

Library Dragon

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Re: Buying for a cake and cookies reception
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2013, 11:31:49 PM »
Congratulations to your husband.  I'm going to go by my experience where the reception took place immediately following the promotion ceremony and will only last 30-60 minutes. 

If that is the case your cake and cookie estimation sounds right.  A 4"x4" piece of cake is a hefty piece of cake. 

As for drinks I would have:
Iced Water
Crystal Light Lemonade
2 Dr. Pepper
1 Sprite
3 Diet Cola
4 Regular Cola

The sugar free lemonade gives an alternative for diet drinks.  Do you need coffee.  It's not the old military where coffee was always required, but you may want to look at who will be there.

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MommyPenguin

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Re: Buying for a cake and cookies reception
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2013, 11:51:40 AM »
Okay, I ended up really needing to do the shopping last night (we just moved into a new house, and the people who lived here took all the plugs, like for the bath and the kitchen sink, so I couldn't bathe the children until I went to Walmart and got one, and figured I might as well get the food at the same time...).  So I ended up getting 5 Cokes, 1 Coke Zero, 1 Diet Coke, 1 Diet Sprite, 1 7-Up, 1 Dr. Pepper, and a tub of lemonade mix.  All far too expensive as there was no sale, but I needed them this week and couldn't wait.  I'm a little hesitant about coffee, as I don't drink it and I have no idea how to make it.  It's possible, though, that there may be a coffee machine provided (it's at a sort of reception area at his work), so if there is, I'll see if my dad can make the coffee, as he drinks it.

The 4 square inch estimate was based on a 2" x 2" slice of cake.  But even if it gets cut a bit larger, like 2" x 3", we should be okay.  And that, of course, is assuming that everybody there gets a slice, and some people may not.  I do think the idea of a salty snack makes sense, so I bought a couple of bags of pretzels.  If there weren't so many people, I'd consider doing something like fruit as well, but fruit is way too expensive to make it reasonable to bring fruit for 50 people on top of everything else.

I bought a ton of ingredients for making all the cakes and cookies.  Buying 10 2-liters is kind of crazy... my cart was crammed to overflowing!  I did decide that you guys were right, and I wouldn't worry about the juice.  So it's just gonna be soda, lemonade, and probably water (my husband says that there are pitchers and punch bowls and such there, so it's just a matter of putting some icewater in pitchers and mixing the lemonade into punch bowls--and our parents will be there so I will have help).

The other cookie ideas are fun, but I'm trying not to make this more complicated than I have to.  I just moved into a new house less than a week ago and it's still a mess of boxes and such, so I haven't done any cooking yet.  So I don't really want to try to make a lot of different cookies, especially with four little kids (one a baby) and the older ones wanting to "help" and driving me crazy.  Oatmeal raisin cookies and chocolate chip are my specialties, and I can make both from scratch so they aren't too expensive, plus I figured they were different enough from each other.  I agree that in general, adding maybe sugar cookies and peanut butter or some other kind of cookie would be great, I just can't handle that much work when I haven't even managed to find the box with my husband's shoes and I'm living out of a suitcase, you know?  Plus then I'd worry that people would want to try one of each cookie, so I'd end up needing many more cookies than I've planned for.

I'm planning to make the cookies tomorrow and the cake Wednesday, as the event is on Thursday.  Thank you so much everybody for your help in planning and figuring out numbers!  Your ideas were great, especially like the idea of the salty snack and ditching one of the kinds of drinks to simplify things.  If anything else comes to mind (that doesn't require me going to the store again--man, it's a long drive to the grocery store, especially when the GPS lies and thinks there's an exit where there isn't one...), let me know!  And I'll let you know how it went.

jpcher

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Re: Buying for a cake and cookies reception
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2013, 06:11:53 PM »
You are incredible, MommyPenguin, for taking this on so soon after your move with your home in such disarray and all!

Take a deep breath and don't stress. What you've planned (and your reasons for such planning) sounds great! ;D



Just curious, what did you decide about what kind/how much of each cake to make?

MommyPenguin

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Re: Buying for a cake and cookies reception
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2013, 02:16:32 PM »
Thanks, jpcher.  :)

Well, I did end up finding that two batches of chocolate chip cookie dough made just over 5 dozen cookies, and one batch of oatmeal raisin made exactly 3 dozen.  I'll lose a few because I'm gonna let each kid try one, as they've been salivating over them all day and asking oh-so-casually if they might lick the bowl when I'm done, etc.  So I should end up with 8 dozen and I'll hope that's enough!  Or do you think I should make one more batch of chocolate chip cookies?  It would give me another 2.5 dozen.  They're maybe a little larger than some people make them, but not huge.  Thoughts?

For the cake, I bought 4 cake mixes: two yellow, one french vanilla, and one chocolate.  I'll do the yellows together in one pan to make one large double-cake.  I'll put the french vanilla and chocolate together.  I still haven't decided whether to marble them or to just have one half french vanilla and the other half chocolate.  What do you guys think?  I think the marbling would be more interesting, but if you think enough people would prefer to have chocolate by itself, or that people wouldn't like that combination, I'll keep them separate.  I'm going to do buttercream icing for both cakes, as it's the simplest and the cheapest.  I'll probably keep things fairly simple with decorating (I love to decorate cakes, but that's not time well-spent when I haven't managed to find a pair of dress shoes for my husband or any of the 7-month-old's clothes yet).  I'll probably do each cake a solid color, and some coordinating colors to make a bit of trim on the sides, and then say "Congratulations, <Husband's name>!" or something in the center (I'll ask him what he wants them to say).  If he was making something interesting like colonel, I could make the little symbol on the cake, but his rank is just two bars.  :)

MommyPenguin

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<sigh>  Well, I just burned a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies.  I *thought* they seemed to be taking a long time to cook... I'd forgotten to set the timer.  Silly me.  So I think I will make a second batch of one or the other.  Do you guys think I should make another batch of chocolate chip, or oatmeal raisin?  If I do chocolate chip, I'll have about 7.5 dozen chocolate chip and 2 dozen oatmeal raisin.  If I do oatmeal raisin, I'll have 5 dozen chocolate chip and 5 dozen oatmeal raisin.  I'm somewhat inclined to do chocolate chip, as I think it'll be more popular in general, even though I'll then have a pretty big imbalance between the two.  What would you do?

Bellantara

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I would do the  chocolate chip, myself.

MommyPenguin

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Okay, you say chocolate chip, my best friend says the same, I was leaning towards that, and my husband called and when I asked him, he says chocolate chip.  So chocolate chip it is!  :)

Bellantara

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Re: Buying for a cake and cookies reception
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2013, 02:50:04 PM »
Glad there's a consensus!  :) And congrats on your husband's promotion!