Menu for a Coffee & Dessert Reception

by Alissa Pond Mentzer
A coffee and dessert reception is an inexpensive option for casual or formal entertaining.

A coffee and dessert reception is an inexpensive option for casual or formal entertaining.

Hosting a party or special event can be stressful and expensive. A coffee and dessert reception is an enjoyable, budget-friendly solution. These receptions are appropriate for a wide range of events including casual open houses, civic functions, business functions, charity events or weddings. Menu possibilities include elegant, elaborate stations and passed trays, a casual buffet of hand-held sweets or something in between. Plan the reception between meal times, such as late afternoon or evening hours. Indicate on the invitation that only desserts will be served.

BIg Desserts

Set up a buffet table of big desserts to provide guests with a choice of cakes, pies or full-sized tarts. Individually sliced and plated portions allow guests to easily pick up a serving and move along. Dessert stations add variety to large-scale receptions. Guests can help themselves to chocolate fondue or make their own ice cream sundaes. A chef-run crepe station adds elegance to a formal reception.

LIttle Desserts

An assortment of little desserts is convenient for guests to pick up and nibble on as they move around the room. Choose desserts that can be eaten without a fork, such as cookies, brownies, miniature tarts, sliced tea breads, truffles and chocolate-covered strawberries. Little desserts passed on trays add an air of formality to the reception.


Offer regular and decaffeinated coffees in different flavors or varieties. Offer cream and sugar and, if desired, flavored syrups. Another option is to set up an espresso and cappuccino station to make specialty drinks for your guests. For special occasions, a selection of cordials and liquors for guests to add to their coffee lends a festive touch to the reception. During warm months, offer iced coffees, especially for an outdoor event.

Other Beverages

Offer a variety of beverages for non-coffee drinkers. Put out hot water and assorted teas or serve iced tea, depending on the season. Include water and punch, if desired. Dessert wines are an elegant addition, especially if you are serving biscotti. Don't forget the champagne for celebratory occasions.

Healthful Offerings

Balance the sweet, rich desserts on the menu with a platter of fresh fruit, cheeses, vegetables with ranch dip and nuts. Individual cups of fruit salad make it easy for guests to eat as they mingle. You may also want to offer a selection of sugar-free desserts for guests who are mindful of their blood sugar. Be sure to label these desserts so that guests can easily identify them.

About the Author

Alissa Pond Mentzer worked in biotech research and educational publishing before becoming a freelance writer in 2005. She has contributed to textbooks for The Mcgraw-Hill Companies and National Geographic School Division and writes science articles for various websites. Mentzer earned a Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University in anthropology and biological sciences.

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