Planning a Menu

Many factors will affect your choice of menu. What type of gathering are you intending to have? How long will it go for? What time of day? What time of year? How many people will be attending? What are their tastes in food? What are their ages and interests? Are there many vegetarians, or seafood-haters?

With finger food it is best kept simple. Don’t try to attempt too much. A few platters of well-chosen ideas will create more impact. If your guests are staying for the whole evening you might want to consider one or two sweet dishes to be brought out later on. The time of day and year will influence you in your choice of hot and cold dishes­ – in summer there is little need to serve hot dishes.

Obviously your choice of guests will have a major bearing of your choice of menu. You will need to make your own decisions here. However, a good rule of thumb with a mixed group is to serve couple of conversation ‘all rounder’ items such as quiches or tartlets, something more substantial and usually bread based (especially if alcohol is being served) and perhaps one or two more innovative ideas.

How Much to Serve

One of the biggest quandaries people have when preparing finger food is how much to make. How do you know how many of those little pieces everyone will eat?

You will find that most of our recipe serving quantities are given as ‘makes 40’ for single items such as tart or pikelets, or ‘make about 20 pieces’ to give you an idea of how generously something like a frittata or pizza should be cut. However, some recipes (antipasto dishes) are impossible to calculate in pieces.

A rough idea for quantities for pre-dinner nibbles is to serve about 3-5 pieces per person, and for a short (say two or three hour) cocktail party you should allow 4-6 pieces of food per hour for each person, for as long as the party or occasion when finger food is being served in place of a sit-down meal (such as a wedding or birthday party), allow 8-12 pieces per person. As far as variety goes, as we stated earlier, it’s best to keep it simple and concentrate on a few fabulous dishes than have vast quantity of mediocre ones. We advise for 10-20 people, preparing about 6 different dishes and, for any number higher than that, about eight dishes.

For a whole evening occasion, you would move through light canapés, to more substantial bites (this is when you would serve any hot dishes) and finish with sweet nibbles.

Obviously it’s better to make too much food than have people leave feeling hungry.

A Nibble or a Party?

Finger food is ideal for many occasions. You might invite a small group of friends round for hors d’oeuvres or canapés with drinks. Alternatively, you might be hosting a wild party for 30+ people, a wedding or brunch at your home or function room. Finger food has its place at all these events.