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How many cups and beverages to order?

How Many Cups and Beverages to Order?

Tips about number of beverages and cups per guest

How Many Cups and Beverages Per Guest?

With all of the choices there are to make when planning a wedding, shower, or birthday celebration, the most difficult decision is often the beverage menu. Besides guessing what types of beverages guests will drink, you must also predict how much your guests will drink and how many cups you will need. To make your party planning a little easier, we put together these tips and tricks to use when calculating how many cups and beverages you will need to avoid running out before the event is over.

Before getting started, you need to know a couple of crucial pieces of information: how many guests you will be serving and how long you expect your event to run. Then, you need to decide what type of beverage menu you will offer. If you are serving alcohol, you must offer non-alcoholic options as well. If you are not serving alcohol, consider adding coffee and tea in addition to soft drinks and juices for a wider variety.

If you decide to serve alcohol, the next step is to examine your guest list and determine what type of drinkers you have coming. For example, if you know that you are serving primarily wine drinkers, purchase more wine than beer and hard liquor. It may also help to assess if the majority of your guests are low, moderate, or high drinkers and plan for more or less amounts of alcohol based on your guests.

If all else fails when purchasing alcohol, find a retailer that will accept returns on unopened bottles and cases. This way, you do not have to worry about purchasing wine, beer, and liquor that might go to waste after the event. Leftover pop and water will typically be used up with no problem.

Here are some guidelines for disposable cup and beverage quantities for three-to-four hour events that include a meal. You can adjust accordingly depending on a longer or shorter duration.

How Many Cups Per Guest

With all of the different beverage options you may have at your event, it will help to use these general rules of thumb when it comes to how many cups you should purchase. Some people will use more -- and some less -- so it should all even out.

Plastic Cups:
  • Allow one plastic cup per guest per hour (four hour event = four cups per guest)
Hot/Cold Cups:
  • If you are only supplying hot or cold paper cups, allow about two cups per guest for the first hour and one cup per guest for each hour after.
  • If you are serving coffee and tea in addition to alcohol, allow two hot or cold paper cups per guest.
  • If you are only serving soft drinks, juice, and coffee or tea, allow three hot or cold paper cups per guest.
Disposable Stemware:
  • For champagne toasts, allow one plastic champagne flute per guest. If you are serving champagne throughout the night, up that number to two glasses per guest.
  • For wine, allow one plastic wine glass per guest per hour.

How Many Beverages Per Guest

Water, Soft Drinks, and Juice:
  • Allow 2 liters or four to six bottles of water per four guests.
  • When serving both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, allow one 8-oz glass of soft drink or juice per adult .
  • When serving only non-alcoholic beverages, allow three 8-oz glasses for every guest.
  • For events with children, plan on needing three 8-oz glasses per child.
Coffee and Tea:
  • If you are serving alcoholic beverages, allow two cups of either coffee or tea per person.
  • If you are not serving alcoholic beverages, allow three or more cups of either coffee or tea per person.
  • Allow at least one 12-oz bottle per guest every half-hour to hour of the event, depending on how heavy your guests drink.
  • One bottle of wine will typically serve five to six glasses, depending on how heavy you pour. Allow at least one bottle for every two guests. You can increase this standard to one glass of wine per guest, per hour if you know that your friends are mainly wine drinkers and your event will run longer than three hours.
  • For Toasting: You can usually get five full glasses from one bottle. Allow one glass per guest for the toast. If you are looking to save a little money in this area, ask the bar staff to pour glasses 1/3 to 1/2 full, which should get you approximately eight glasses from a bottle and allow just enough champagne for the obligatory sip at toast time.
  • As a beverage option: Allow two glasses per guest; you should be able to get approximately five to six glasses from one bottle.
  • Consider streamlining your bar menu by choosing two or three signature cocktails to cut down on the amount of hard liquor you have to purchase. If you are using this method, look at the cocktail recipes, multiply the ingredients by three drinks per guest, and then multiply by the number of guests you are expecting. For example: 2 oz whiskey per drink x 3 drinks per guest x 100 guests = 600 oz whiskey.
  • For a more general guideline, allow 1.5 oz of liquor per drink, which means a fifth of liquor is enough for 16 cocktails. Allow about three drinks per person, plus one for every hour over a three hour event.
  • Allow 1.5 lbs of ice per guest for drinks and 2 to 2.5 lbs per guest if you have to chill bottles and cans.
Still have questions about how many cups to order for your event? Give our customer service team a call at 1.888.959.3789!

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