Your Guide to Hosting a Smashing Cocktail Party

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Even if you’re not someone whose Insta is full of #OOTD posts – that’s “Outfit of the Day” for the rest of us – you might be itching to show off a ‘fit that you feel fabulous in. One of the most fashionable parties to host is a cocktail party.  Don’t drink or have friends that don’t? Mocktails count! Cocktail parties are as fashionable as ever and can be as easy to host as a casual dinner party.

Women toasting martinis at a cocktail party.

While many adults go for craft beers and unique wines, classic mixed drinks are enjoying a renaissance.  You’ll find that many more people are ordering mixed drinks at bars and restaurants than they have in the last decade or two. The Manhattan has made a big comeback. Personally, we love a nice mulled wine at holiday parties. This cranberry orange whiskey sour is also a winner.

One of the best things about hosting a cocktail party is that they generally only last a few hours, so it’s won’t be a big hurdle for introverts. Bonus, your guests will be wandering around mingling and snacking rather than sitting around a table eating a full meal with each other. This makes the cocktail party perfect for inviting people who may or may not already know each other.  

As long as the menu complements the drinks you’ve decided to serve, just about anything goes. With appetizers and snacks as the main attraction, you should be able to accommodate any food allergies and restrictions with ease. Guests who come to a cocktail party know that they’re there to snack, have a drink or two, and mingle.  So you can supply a variety of finger foods and be confident that everyone will find something that meets their fancy.  

Here are some tips from a professional party planner on hosting a smashing cocktail party that everyone will remember.

Tip #1 – Heads up. You will need way more ice than you think you will.  The standard rule of thumb is to have about a pound of ice per guest who will be in attendance.  To be on the safe side, go for 1.5.

Tip #2 – Different beverages are consumed from different glass styles.  Make sure you have an assortment of the appropriate glasses for your guests.  And, it is always a good idea to have many extras.  If you will be serving wine, it is a good idea to use wine glass charms so people will stick to using the same glass throughout the event.

Low-stress alternative: If you need to go with plasticware, you can mitigate the impact of your party with eco-friendly disposable plates and utensils.

Tip #3 – The most important part of your cocktail party planning is making sure you have enough supplies on hand.  Clearly, the most important of these supplies is the alcohol. A good bar should be stocked with the ingredients for each of your friends’ favorite drinks or at a basic level, at least those used to make the most popular drinks, plus beer and wine. However, if you have a themed or specific menu, you’re not required to stock everything under the sun.

Tip #4 – If you do not know anything about mixing drinks, you can always enlist the skills of one of your friends or relatives to play bartender for the evening. On the other hand, if they’re on the guest list, that may be a little unfair. Many local catering services will have bartenders who can work for you at your party, and mobile bartenders are popular in larger cities.  

Tip #5 – When hosting a party where alcohol is consumed, always offer food and coffee to your guests and make sure they have a designated driver to get them home safely. Don’t ever let your guests drink and drive.  It’s not safe for them and the other people on the road. You may be liable if they get into an accident after drinking at your home. Plan to switch to alcoho-free drinks 30-45 minutes (or more) before the end of your party.

So there you have it. Hosting a cocktail party is not so hard, and offers you a convenient excuse to have your friends and family over for an evening of dressed-up adult fun. 

Design inspo for celebrations, afternoon tea, or Wednesday's work-at-home lunch.
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