How do you know if you should have help behind the bar?

By Kate Chynoweth
Updated September 07, 2004
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| Credit: Betty Crocker Guide to Easy Entertaining

Hire a bartender if you're having 40 or more guests, says Debbie Barnes, a former caterer and the director of sales at Party Rental Ltd., in Teterboro, New Jersey. "You want everybody to have a drink as soon as possible," says Barnes. "It's something to hold on to that makes people feel comfortable." Having a professional behind the bar expedites service, eliminates messy amateur drink-mixing, and frees you up for more important things. The cost of bartending services varies by region: You can expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $25 an hour, plus tip. And while a bartender traditionally dresses in a bow tie and black vest, if you wish him or her to dress more casually, in keeping with your event, you can politely but firmly put the kibosh on that outfit.