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Party Planning: How Much is Enough?
For many hosts and hostesses, calculating quantities of cocktails and other beverages is one of the most worrisome aspects of the party planning process.  Will you have enough? Will there be too much? How do you ensure your guests have a good time, while being a smart, responsible host?

Here are some suggestions for figuring out how much to buy when stocking the bar for your upcoming celebration or party.

The amount of punch or number of cocktails, beers or servings of wine a guest will drink varies depending on a number of factors:
• Consider the length of the party - the average cocktail party lasts three hours, a sit-down dinner usually lasts about four hours, and for a full evening extravaganza, figure on about five or six hours.

• Take into consideration the day of the week on which the party is held (a Sunday afternoon vs. a Friday night, for example).

• Think about whether food will be served and in what quantities.

• And, finally, know your crowd (the Tuesday night book club might be different than the Saturday poker night or Friday night birthday party).

Generally speaking, for a three or four hour event, base your calculations on 3-4 drinks per person.
• When serving wine, plan on one 750 ml bottle for every two guests (one bottle for every 3 to 4 guests if the wine will be served only during a meal).

• If you plan to serve bar drinks, allow 1 1/2 oz of liquor for each drink, which means you'll get about 16 drinks from each 750 ml bottle of liquor.

• When ordering beer for a party, allow about 12 oz per guest for every half hour to hour.

From there, it’s about knowing your guests and what they prefer to drink. Do you know if more of your guests prefer red wine over white, or if most of your guests will prefer rum over vodka?  Now alter your order accordingly.

Here are some other handy tips:
• You will need three bottles of mix for every bottle of spirits.

• Allow at least one 5 kg bag of ice cubes for every ten adults.

It’s also important that you remember to have nonalcoholic beverages on hand.  Besides having juices, bottled water, lemonade, soda and/or iced tea, consider having non-alcoholic wines and beers available too.

Here are some additional ways to ensure your guests arrive home safely:
• Ask how guests will be going home from your party and be prepared to take away car keys.

• Promote the use of designated drivers and encourage guests to leave their cars at home and take public transportation, cabs, or walk.

• Have cash and phone numbers ready for taxi companies – better yet, consider prearranging a couple for when the night is scheduled to wrap up.

• When your guests arrive by car, collect their car keys. That way, when they are ready to leave, they’ll get a second opinion before getting behind the wheel.

• Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party is over.

• Be prepared for overnight guests by having blankets and sleeping bags ready.

• Always serve food with alcohol.

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