Our test kitchen manager shares her tips to keep you prepared and ready for whatever party you are having.

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It can be a guessing game trying to figure out how many starters and drinks your guests will help themselves to. You don't want to spend your time making a ton of apps that don't get eaten, or buying way too many bottles of wine — and you definitely don't want to run out, either! Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Cranberry-Prosecco Cocktail

Do the Food Math

I like to serve two or three different types of small bites, plus a cheese board and dips. Plan on offering two of each app per person for individual nibbles like crab cakes or mini quiches. In addition, serve two to three styles of cheese—to have a good assortment—and plan on an ounce of cheese per person, knowing you'll likely have extras. Serve 1/2 cup crackers per person. For dips, aim for around 1⁄4 cup for each guest.

Plan How Much Booze to Buy

As a general rule, count on one drink per person per hour to ensure the bar doesn't go dry. When shopping, remember: There are five glasses of wine per bottle. I recommend offering at least one type of red and one white wine, as well as a couple styles of beer, plus a few nonalcoholic options.

Factor in the Type of Party

If you're just going to be serving appetizers and cocktails—and skipping the mains—be sure there is plenty of variety. You can still count on making two servings of each appetizer per person, but plan to make five to seven different types of apps.

This article first appeared in EatingWell Magazine, December 2021.