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How to work out the number of drinks needed for a work party

Looking to determine the optimal number of drinks for a work party? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll guide you through a step-by-step process to calculate the ideal quantity of alcoholic beverages to serve.

Whether you’re organisng a festive celebration or simply want to ensure everyone has a great time, read on to find out how to plan the perfect numbers of drinks for a work party. Cheers to a memorable and enjoyable event!

‘Here’s to us all, God Bless us every one’

Charles Dickens, a toast in A Christmas Carol

Australians are known as drinkers. Christmas and drinking seem to be as popular as Vegemite and toast (or as Mike says meat pie and tomato sauce). How then do you work out how many alcoholic drinks to serve at your work Christmas party? Just work through the following handy steps to work it out.

Step 1: How long is your party?

Obviously the longer your party, the more people will drink. Start by working out the duration of your party. A typical work party will be able 2 to 3 hours. Longer than that and you seriously love your work colleagues.

Step 2: What type of party are you catering for?

In this blog we are talking work parties. As the organiser, we are also wildly assuming that you are not trying to or facilitating your guests getting ‘blotto’ (to use our Aussie slang). You want enough so that everyone is satisfied, and safe to get home. Usually 3 standard alcoholic drinks per person for a work party is enough for up to 3 hours, especially if you also have non-alcoholic drinks available.

Step 3: What type of people are you providing drinks for?

Rule of thumb:

  • Men will drink beer or cider. 
  • Women will drink champagne, cider, wine or juice. 
  • Kids will drink non-alcoholic, you can check out our blog next week for how to work out calculations for non-alcoholic drinks.

At work parties, avoid spirits. This is for a couple of reasons including they are costly, have greater ‘duty of care’ requirements (as people can get drunk FAST on them) and they require glass wear which you have to typically hire, clean and return.

Step 4: Choose drink types

Keep in mind the type of people you are providing drinks for, then choose your drink types. We recommend that you keep it limited to 3 to 5 options to make it easy for you at the party. 

This is often:

3 Options

  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Sparkling Wine/Cider/Heavy Beer: Change based on your group type

5 Options

  • Light Beer
  • Heavy Beer
  • White Wine
  • Sparkling Wine
  • Red Wine or Cider

Step 5: Calculate volume

Ok, here goes the MATHS!

Beer is easy to calculate as a bottle or can is the equivalent of a standard drink (EXCEPT if it is a heavy beer, check the label for those). 

For wine a bottle contains 7 standard drinks.

Working off the assumption that each guest will have 3 standard drinks (plus some non-alcoholic beverages) and that your guest list is roughly half female to half male, your calculation will be:

Number of guest x 4 standard drinks / number of drink options = number of drinks per options required

By multiplying by 4 drinks per person rather than the 3 standard drinks that you assume will be drunk per person, you will have some extra drinks if an option is more popular than others or if you end up will some extra people at the party. A few extra drinks as backup is always a good idea!

This is a general starting point calculation. Every group will be slightly different in their consumption and  you can increase the amount of a drink if you think it will be more popular than others.

HINT: You will find that beer and sparkling wine are the most popular options.

Step 6: Duty of care

Check your relevant legislation before you provide drinks at an event. If it is a private, invite only party, there should be nothing that applies to you. If you are in a public area, there are children or if you have a large group, you will find that there are legal requirements for Responsible Service of Alcohol that applies to you. 

There are fines if you don’t comply to these.

General things that you should also do whether or not the legislation applies to your party are:

  • Have water available. Bottled water is incredibly cheap: a 1 bottle per person is always great to have on hand.
  • Have food available: this doesn’t have to be a full on meal, you can do snacks easily.
  • Have Taxi or Uber contact details available as an option for if people shouldn’t be driving.
  • Consider having tea and coffee available.

This way you can have a safe, happy and healthy party!

Finally, as always have fun celebrating!

We wish you a very merry Christmas season.


The Head Monkey & The Grumpy Monkey

(aka Amy & Mike)

Monkey Business Catering is a catering company headquartered in Toowoomba, Queensland.

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