A Guide to Cocktail Party Catering


A Guide to Cocktail Party Catering

We often speak to event planners that are wanting to have a more informal cocktail party / stand up, finger-food type format for their event but they are worried about ordering the right quantities of food to ensure their guests are satisfied.

How do you know how much catering to order for your cocktail party?

As an experienced caterer, the team at Essential Catering and Events have put together this guide to help you with the right amount of catering for your cocktail party.
A key question that needs to be answered is:

How long is the duration of your event for the cocktail party?

As a guide are our team have put together some quick tips on how much catering is best to ensure your party guests leave full and content.

2-Hour Cocktail Party

The amount of finger food served at a 2-hour cocktail party also depends, on what time you choose to commence. This important factor for example if your guests are coming straight from work for a 6.30 or 7.00pm start, they will no doubt be super hungry! If you are hosting your cocktail party right on dinner time, you should carefully consider your catering order. Generally, we would recommend no less than 6 to 8 pieces of finger food (including hot and cold canapes) for a 2-hour cocktail party.

For dinner time cocktail parties, we would suggest ‘heavier’ or more substantial finger food items (including pies, tarts and sandwiches). A nice extra touch to consider is to include some food stations for your guests to graze on throughout your event.

3-Hour Cocktail Party

For a 3-hour cocktail party, we would recommend the addition of more finger food items and perhaps one or two bowl food dishes as well. More substantial dishes or bowl food items are like mini, hand held versions of main courses such as pasta, salads and the always popular fish and chips. Some other great ‘more substantial’ choices to add are bread items such as pork sliders or mini Turkish schnitzel rolls.

4 or 5 Hour Cocktail Party

The longer your event duration, the more finger food items you will require. For longer cocktail parties – 4 and 5 hours – you need to consider a number of hot and cold canapes to start with, followed by a variety of hand held substantial dishes. It is also nice to consider sweet finger foods as dessert. For longer cocktail parties, our Street Food Stands are an awesome addition to your finger food menu and add colour, fun and flavour to all kinds of special occasions.


If you are looking for cocktail catering, finger food catering or bowl food catering, the team of foodies at Essential Catering and Events are here to help guide you and answer all the questions you may have for all your cocktail catering needs. Remember were happy to help, just call us on 03 9761 4188 ! You can check out all our menus here.