Hors d’oeuvres are to dinner what aperitifs are to wine: a little something before the main event; but can’t they be a meal on their own? Deciding if your event may or may not be the perfect Spotlight for hors d’oeuvres only- well we’ve got you covered. Some tips of the trade as to what’s what.
* * *
Hors d’oeuvres: “apart from the main work.”
What’s important to know is: How many hors d’oeuvres will my guests eat? You don’t want to be the hostess sending guests home hungry, but you also do not want too much food. Goldilocks and the Three Bears had it right; it takes some trial and error before you really know the right number of pieces per person for different events. Luckily, we have done the work for you and have come up with best estimates, by event type and time:
- 2-4 pieces per person, 30-60 minutes before dinner, cocktail hour
- 5-6 pieces per person, 1.5-2 hour event, preceding dinner time
- 8-10 pieces per person, 2-4 hours event, heavy hors d’oeuvres
- 12-15 pieces per person 4+ hour event, dinner replacement
Tips of the trade for hors d’oeuvres events:
- Hors d’oeuvre dinners are not always a less expensive dinner option. Although many people hope that ordering hors d’oeuvres will reduce overall cost, this is typically not the case! Hors d’oeuvre dinners are often more expensive since the menu is more labor intensive.
- How can you make an hors d’oeuvre dinner option economical? Mix it up! Be sure to include some heavier items like salmon sliders or braised lamb meatballs; take advantage of “platters” and avoid lots of handmade smaller pieces; add some other options like quinoa salad, baked brie or a mezza platter.
- Perks of an hors d’oeuvres dinner:
- Multi- stations- who doesn’t like variety of flavor?
- Cocktail atmospheres create a less formal service
- Live chef action. Watch chefs prepare your tapas!
- “When do you” vs. “When don’t you”:
- Venue matters – hors d’oeuvres menus are equipment and kitchen sensitive. More so than the traditional buffet or plated dinner, hors d’oeuvres may require ovens, fryers and grills. If your menu needs all three, the cost to rent equipment adds up! And if an outdoor kitchen must be created for your event, it’s likely you’ll also need a tent, lighting, and then heating and side walls in the cooler months.
- If you want to encourage movement at your event, if perhaps there is not enough seating for all, hors d’oeuvres parties are absolutely great for mixers, networking and open houses.
- If the budget fits!
Hors d’oeuvre parties can be fun and dynamic – just remember to consider time of day, right amounts, event style, and of course, the kitchen!
* * *
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do you have any experiences with hors d’oeuvre events? What have your experiences been? Any tips of your own? At the end of the day, we can only know so much.
We are indebted to the photographers who allow us show their work. The white spoons filled with a bite of deliciousness was taken by Sara Gray. The plate of skewers was contributed by Evrim Icoz Photography.