Monday, December 28, 2009

Disposable Utensils: how many to buy?

Every time I organize a rather large party and decide to use disposable utensils, I am at loss how many plates, spoons, forks, knives, napkins and cups to buy. Two per person may be a very approximate guess. But we all know that there is more to it: there are usually many more knives left that forks, most of us will re-use their plate for another round of helpings but will not re-use the same glass for another drink. Running out of utensils may be a disaster for a party, buying too much is unnecessary expense and may mean another box for your already full storage closet. What is the smart party planning math you are using personally or professionally?

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Kim said...

What you buy will influence what gets used. The more abundant your stash of utensils, the more people will feel free to waste. But you can influence their usage. For example, if there are only enough cups for one for each person, and you provide tape and markers, people can label their cup and only use one each. Maybe that's a little cheap, but you get the idea.

I try to provide a little more per person than what I think people should actually need. So, I think about the courses to be served (you probably want a separate plate for your pie and ice cream than you used for your main course), and what I would actually use (e.g. definitely provide knives for steak, but not for chili). Multiply by the number of people, add a small fudge factor, and recognize that should worst come to fruition, I can always dig into my stash of metal utensils.

Peter M said...

Serve sandwiches or pizza, and cookies for dessert! Add soda cans or juice boxes and a roll of paper towels!

Maria said...

Great points here:
- you can manage without any utensils if it is an informal party and you follow Peter's menu
- the more utensils you display, the more will be used
- use makers to minimize cup usage
- number of utensils = number of people X number of courses + fudge factor
- less knives, more forks and dessert spoons

Have more catering math ideas? Please add them below.

rachel_t said...

I was at BJ's Wholesale Club and saw their big box of plastic cutlery and thought of this question. I wish I took a picture so I'd correctly remember the breakdown but I'll guess and say it was 160 forks, 120 spoons and 90 knives. They took into account that you need more forks than spoons and the least amount of knives.

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