With the holidays just around the corner, now’s the perfect time to start thinking about holiday entertaining. Whether you’re planning on hosting a casual get-together (like a potluck dinner) or a swanky party with apps & drinks, the best parties come together in a seemingly effortless manner (but actually require proper planning and organization behind-the-scenes).
The Inspirations & Celebrations Cocktail Party Guide shares all that you need to host a fabulous affair, including tips on setting up a bar, tasty hors d’oeuvres, and planning ideas.
Cocktail Party Guide
The reason why hosting a cocktail party is especially appealing during the midst of the holidays is that it enables your guests to get dressed up (which is every woman’s reason for buying a new cocktail dress), you can serve elegant bite-sized appetizers (without going-over your holiday budget), and you can celebrate the holidays with friends and family in a relaxed, comfortable, fun atmosphere.
Throughout the process of planning your cocktail party, always remind yourself – as the hostess, your mood and attitude sets the tone for your guests. When you’re enjoying yourself, your guests have a good time.
With that said, here are easy entertaining tips to help you create a cocktail party that both you and your guests will love.
Entertaining Tip 1: Planning The Menu
Traditionally, a cocktail party includes bite-sized hors d’oeuvres, which are generally savory appetizers and finger-foods. When deciding on which foods to serve at your cocktail party, there are two things to keep in mind. First, the foods should combine well with each other, so that people can sample a variety of options (think of it like planning a meal). Secondly, all the appetizers should be easily edible. That means, no messy ribs or foods that require cutting (since most guests will be mingling and walking around the party).
Tartlets, shrimp or chicken skewers, cheese and crackers, roasted vegetable trays, fresh fruit assortments, and cured meats are all great options. Also, there should be a mixture of hot and cold appetizers with a variety of flavors, to keep your guests satiated.
Entertaining Tip 2: The Bar
When your guests arrive at the cocktail party, they should be greeted with a beverage. Whether that be a glass of bubbly or a specialty cocktail, setting the tone from the get-go will immediately make them feel welcomed and at ease.
If your plan is to have a full bar, you’ll need to stock it with a variety of liquors, mixers, and garnishes. In that case, it’s ideal to hire a bartender or a mixologist to help the process. An easier alternative is to have a signature cocktail bar, which would offer guests a few specially-made cocktails for the party, in addition to wine, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages. Punch bowls, beverage dispensers, and pre-made cocktails are easy to create in advance of the cocktail party, and enable your guests to serve themselves.
Entertaining Tip 3: Setting The Scene
Even though your cocktail party might be hosted in your home, it still requires some effort in setting the scene for a swanky soirée. Mood lighting (like candlelight and light dimmers) help put guests at ease, while floral arrangements add instant ambiance. Scented potpourri and diffusers envelop your guests in a waft of delightful scents.
Arrange the furniture so that guests can easily move around the cocktail party, without the space ever feeling tight or cramped. If you need to rent additional seating or high top tables (to accommodate larger parties), make these arrangements in advance of the party (to ensure you rented enough items). At any one time, about 15% of your guests should be able to be seated, although most guests expect to mix and mingle while walking around or standing up.
[Image Credits: Shutterstock, PotteryBarn]