You have your budget and you know how many people you are expecting (minimum and maximum range). Now comes the time to decide what type of party you will have. Before going to look around, first decide what style of party you want and what you want to serve: formal, casual, themed, sit-down, buffet, reception-style, food stations.
The most formal is a sit-down dinner. In this case, you will need a place that has room for everyone to be seated, plus room for a bar (1/100 guests with 2 bartenders), dance floor if needed, and space for any other group activities that may take place. You will also need to have a kitchen nearby and staging areas for the food. Many formal events will start off with a reception (no more than one hour long), followed by a sit-down dinner and dancing afterward. In this case, it is really nice to have the reception in another room, or outside on a terrace adjoining the dining area.
A casual party lends itself to either a buffet or food stations. A buffet will take the most room since you will need space for everyone to sit down, as well as the buffet tables and bars, dance floor, etc. If you opt for serving from food stations, this will be a roving type of dinner party, so many people just eat while mingling with other guests. They usually just take a little from this station and a little from that one, etc. You want to have enough seating for 2/3 of your guests, since they will want to sit down at some point, or, at the very least, the women may want a place to put their purse or wrap. Reception-style can be formal or casual. If it’s formal, then usually waiters will pass various canapés from silver trays. If it’s casual, then little stations or a mini buffet will suffice, depending on the number of guests you will have. The more people you have, the more you should spread out the food into stations to avoid crowding around the food. When I have a party around the holidays, I put the desserts in the dining room, various drinks in the kitchen - in punch bowls or pitchers - and serve cocktails at the bar. I put a couple of cold canapés on the coffee table as well as on a sofa table and then bring out hot items throughout the night to where most guests are hanging out. Themed parties can be formal or casual, and can serve the food in any style mentioned above; however, you’ll want enough room for the décor that you choose. Figure in the size of the table décor when deciding how many people will sit at each dinner table, if a large centerpiece is desired. For banquet rounds, I don’t like more than 8 people per table. It gets really uncomfortable sitting with 10 people around a banquet table, even if it is a 72” round. You may also need space for any themed activities that you are planning on taking place during the party. If you need a stage, you’ll need to know how big it needs to be, or at least be able to tell a rental facility what it will be used for (i.e., 5- piece dance band, DJ, string trio, etc.) A rental facility will be able to figure the size for you based on your requirements. Karen