“But, will there be food?”: The Art of Decoding the Invite


Cool, but… will there be food?

Sometimes it seems as though the hardest part of planning a get together – no matter how big or small – is determining what you’re going to serve and then (possibly even more importantly) how you’re going to communicate to your guests what you intend to feed them.

It can be stressful because we’ve all been on the receiving end of the invitation, questioning whether “hors d’oeuvres” means that you’ll be stuffing your face with crab cakes all night or if you’ll be chasing the lone sleeve of crackers floating around the party.

Do you skip dinner with the expectation that you’ll be able to piece together a meal-sized portion? Or do you eat before and run the risk of being too full to enjoy the full spread of meats, cheeses, and fluffy white breads?

(I personally have never experienced this phenomenon of being ‘too full,’ but I hear it happens.)

I decided to do some thorough research* on the art of timing the gathering and wording within the invite to serve as a guide when you’re planning your next party at home.

First, a few key findings:

  • The cutoff time for eating dinner before an event is around 7:00 PM on weekdays, and 7:30 on weekends. Participants cited fear of being “hangry” as a driver for this.
  • An invite with no mention of anything related to food encouraged participants to eat in advance or plan on a late-night binge. However, the mystery surrounding this invite also led some participants to consider bringing an appetizer to share, or expecting a high-caliber spread (referenced as “fancy stuff” or “delicious treats”) when they arrived.
  • Saying, “come hungry” may conjure images of a pig roast in your backyard. Best to avoid this.

*Research methodology included a group text message between 6 participants, 4 male and 2 female, between the ages of 28-36, living in the Cincinnati, Ohio region. Further research should be conducted to further validate these findings.

With these fascinating tidbits out of the way, on to the practical stuff. I’ve created a few scenarios with different times of the week and day, as well as different language about what will be served. This, paired with what you might offer in the food and drink department, should provide a rough guide for what your guests expect, and allow you to prepare accordingly. You don’t want to be left with crumbs 20 minutes into the party, or with trays of food after your last guest has departed.

This should help.


Invite 1:

Wednesday, May 25th, 7:30 PM

“Snacks, dessert, drinks”

You’ll serve:

  • A heavy meat-based appetizer
  • Chips, crackers, assorted cheese (perhaps served on a chalkboard cheese tray?)
  • Small, bite sized desserts
  • Wine and light beers


Invite 2:

Saturday, June 4th, 7:30 PM

“Food and drink”

You’ll serve:

  • Several heavy appetizers (enough to substitute a meal)
  • Something substantial, prepared in advance, but able to be eaten in a party setting (suggestions include a pizza, lasagna, or other baked dish)
  • Beer, wine, open liquor cabinet

all images courtesy of pexels.com

all images courtesy of pexels.com

Invite 3:

Saturday, June 4th, 5:30 PM

“Dinner and drinks”

You’ll serve:

  • A sit down dinner
  • A few different courses, or a main with several side options
  • Desserts to be enjoyed or passed throughout the evening
  • An array of beer, wine, and liquor
  • Nobody leaves hungry

What have you had success with when planning and communicating for your gatherings at home? Share with us! We also love helping you plan, so reach out to get your next Gild party on the books.

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