Questions on cookies and punch

elba1January 20, 2014

Hi folks, some background info: we are having my son's Eagle Scout Court of Honor at our church in a few weeks (this came upon us very quickly - long story short, only date available). We will serve a lunchtime meal at our home for approx. 20-24 relatives coming from a distance, then the ceremony will be at 3pm followed by dessert in our fellowship hall. Invitations being sent to the approx. 30 scouts/families and 15 leaders. We are very involved in our church, and will make an announcement inviting the congregation to attend. We're requesting rsvp's by Wed - 3 days prior to the Sat. ceremony. Until then, I really have no idea how many people we are talking about (I'm estimating 75 people, but I could be off either way). All scouts won't come, but many of those that do will likely bring a parent. Not many may come from the congregation, but we might get 20 or 30, as an initial guess. My plan is to order large cakes that Wed to well cover the estimated number of people. I also want to provide lots of homemade cookies. We will serve coffee & tea, and my son wants punch. Cookies I've made/frozen so far with amounts in (): choc chip (60), snickerdoodles (40), oatmeal cranberry (40), "Grammy's chocolate cookies" (60), molasses spice (32). They all came out very tasty, so I'm happy with the recipes. My son is allergic to all nuts. Given that some may only eat cake, some may only eat cookies, adolescent boys may grab handfuls of cookies, and only some of the adults will want the punch here are my questions:
1. How many cookies per person would you estimate?
2. When I make more cookies, would you stick with more of the same 5, or do you have other suggestions to further round it out (no nuts). I'm thinking that the more kinds there are, the more people would take to "try one of each," so more variety isn't necessarily better if I don't want to make a million! But if you think the variety is lacking, it's just as easy to make different kinds.
3. How much punch per person would you estimate - for example, 8 oz each for every child, and for 20% of the adults? With coffee & tea being offered, I have no idea how many adults may go for the punch.
4. I have a gallon each of cran-cherry juice & apple cider left over from Christmas that I want use up. Given that I will need much more juice, as well as soda/seltzer, and given that there are tons of punch recipes, is there a guideline on something like "stick with 3 juices and you should be fine." In other words if I threw a gallon of pineapple juice into the above mixture along with some sprite/seltzer would it probably taste good?
5. Is there a general ratio of 2/3 juice, 1/3 soda/seltzer? Or is it more like 50/50?
Thanks so much for your willingness to answer these questions, as I do not have much experience in single handedly feeding a crowd!

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There are lots of food charts for serving a crowd available on-line, and sometimes you can find this information in older cookbooks, especially those put together by a church group. Locate a few and use them as a guideline, plus your natural instinct. I'm surprised there isn't a chart or book as a guideline in your church kitchen for serving crowds. The link below is from a friend of mine.

1. I figure 2-3 (average-size, 2-inch) cookies per person, or approximately 3-4 dozen cookies for 25 people - but it depends on other things on the menu. I wouldn't make large cookies.

2. Five kinds of cookies is more than generous and your list sounds like it should appeal to everyone. It's not necessary, but I would suggest at least one gluten-free choice and one that would be appropriate for diabetics (which could easily be one and the same recipe). These additions seem to be well-received, and much appreciated these days, where food allergies and diabetes are rampant.

I often make place cards with the name and an ingredient list, especially if it contains nuts, coconut, etc. - common ingredients people may dislike or have an allergy to, as a courtesy to guests.

If making gluten-free items, be careful not to cross-contaminate it with gluten-containing foods (don't bake gluten-free cookies on cookie sheets after you baked gluten-containing cookies without thoroughly cleaning them first). You could also buy sugar-free or gluten-free cookies instead of making them, or find a friend who makes them on a regular basis to help you out. I regularly make these for church-related and family-related functions, since both have a number of people who need gluten-free and diabetic friendly dessert options.

3. A way to judge the amount of drinks is to figure 1-2 beverages per person per hour.

-Don't serve large portions of liquid, even iced tea (unless it's going to be summertime hot).

-Most (glass) punch cups hold 1/2-cup (4-oz.), but if you use plastic 6- or 8-oz. cups, do the math per gallon of punch to get how many servings to expect to get.

-Use cups/glasses children (especially small children) can easily hold, if appropriate. Make sure your servers know which glasses/cups to use.

-Iced tea (especially in the winter) - 8-oz. plus ice is a good size.

-Coffee - figure 3/4-cup (6-oz. - or the size of the cup you are using).

4. I would serve the cider spiced and hot at the home reception, and the cranberry/cherry + fizzy something-er-other as the punch at the church reception (make a couple ice rings from the cranberry/cherry juice so when it melts, all you need is to add another ice ring and a little more fizzy).

I would also make a test batch (using smaller amounts, but the same ratio of ingredients) if you aren't going to use a recipe.

If the weather is going to be extremely cold, hot cider and coffee would probably be more popular than iced punch and iced tea - depending on the ratio of adults and children attending.

If you need a "back-up" punch that can be made as needed is one frozen container (12-fl. oz.) of orange juice and one frozen container of lemonade. Make according to package directions and mix the two together. No fizzy anything necessary. It's almost too simple ;-).


Here is a link that might be useful: Shaboom's Kitchen

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 2:40PM
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Thanks a lot Grainlady. I will keep that link handy. I did make the cookies on the smaller side. I thought about a gluten free option - was thinking I should probably buy it, as I know some won't eat anything made on the same equipment, even after washing. I also thought about labels, so I will probably do that since you suggested it as well, which would mean each type on a separate platter, not a problem. The coffee & tea will be hot, the punch will be cold (I'll only do punch at church, not for the family at home).

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 4:21PM
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Here's an old post I saved. I made it a couple of years ago and it is very good cold (but it is scrumptious hot :-) Might give you an idea of proportions, servings, etc. since you already have some apple cider and cranberry juice.

* Posted by donna_loomis (My Page) on
Wed, Dec 1, 10 at 2:54

I have made this spiced cider every Christmas for the last 29 years. My son insists on it. It is delicious hot or cold. Just the right combination of sweet and tangy. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it.


2 quarts apple cider (not juice)
1 and 1/2 quarts cranberry juice
3 cinnamon sticks
1 and 1/2 tsp. whole cloves
1/4 cup brown sugar

Bring all ingredients to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove cloves and cinnamon sticks. Serve hot or cold. Makes approximately 12 servings.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 5:13PM
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I'd add some frozen lemonade to the juices you already have and ginger ale for the's a similar recipe.

1 can (6 ounces) frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 bottle (32 ounces) cranberry juice cocktail, chilled
2 cans (12 ounces each) ginger ale, chilled

Make lemonade as directed on can in large pitcher. Stir in cranberry juice cocktail and enough ice to chill. Just before serving, stir in ginger ale.

Makes 12 servings (3/4 cup each)

I think your cookie selection is wonderful and your thoughts about not serving too many choices is spot on. I wouldn't want to take responsibility for providing food for special diets and I imagine people who require them are very cautious about indulging at an event like this. I think I'd provide a bowl of fruit for those who may have other dietary needs or who don't want their kids to have a bunch of sugar (gluten free or not). Maybe even include a bowl of individually wrapped string cheese - much easier and kid friendly than a cheese plate.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 5:58PM
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I also think the cookies sound delicious, I'd figure no moe than three per person.

I also think the cran/cherry would mix well with the apple cider and something fizzy, but I wouldn't add another juice, I think pineapple would be too much. Serving hot apple cider at your home first is a good idea too, and I often make punch with cran/raspberry juice and 7-up, so I think you could do that with your juice, I use about 2/3 juice and 1/3 soda. It works well with gingerale too.

At 3 pm I'd expect adults to be drinking coffee instead of punch, but I do know that some coffee drinkers switch to decaf by that time in the afternoon. I've always figured 4 oz of punch per person but if you have teenaged boys, they are going to drink more.

If you do want a diabetic/gluten free option, this is an easy peanut butter cookie:

1 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 cup brown sugar splenda
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda

Roll into quarter sized balls and flatten slightly. Bake at 350F 10-12 minutes.

Makes 48

Most of all, have fun!


Mix all ingredients

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 6:53PM
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Thanks a lot for the additional input. In the morning I am sending out 64 invitations, which doesn't include the congregation at large; many that come won't be alone. I could be really underestimating the number, but I also thought I heard once that about 1/3 of folks invited to an event can't make it. If it is around 75 people, I actually already have enough cookies (forgot about the 28 cranberry shortbread I also made :)). I'll probably make extra, as they certainly won't go to waste and if I'm off on the numbers I won't be too stressed out a couple days before.
All juices already have so much sugar, does anyone just use seltzer as the bubbly or does it just not taste as good as 7up/sprite/gingerale?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 9:27PM
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I haven't used just seltzer because it tastes salty and throws off the flavor of juice to me. However, just a plain sparkling water would also be fine, and not add all that sugar. The kids might not like it as well but the adults would probably like it better.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 9:49PM
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Thanks, that's a good point. The punch is mostly for the kids, so what's more sugar if they're already having cake, cookies & juice lol.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 9:19AM
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