How to Host a Cocktail Party

People have been gathering for cocktail parties since the early 1900s. This celebration is a great way to entertain friends or business partners, and the guest list should be kept around 10 to make sure the party is intimate and the host can manage the occasion. You can choose a cocktail party for receptions and open houses to celebrate your accomplishments and spend quality time with friends.

The average cocktail party should last no more than three hours, and it’s best to include a simple spread of appetizers and a variety of drinks for guests to enjoy. This occasion is easy to plan, but you’ll need to keep some important points in mind. Here are some practical suggestions for hosting your next cocktail party.

Planning the Party

Your cocktail party can be as elaborate or as simple as you want. Determine how many people to invite and whether the event is for business associates or friends (or both). You’ll also need to determine how much you want to spend and whether the event will be dressy or casual so you’ll know if you need to start shopping for cocktail dresses online.

Your party can feature a signature cocktail or you can have a full bar and allow your guests to make their own drinks. You should also decide whether you’d like the celebration to be indoors or outdoors. If you choose to have the soiree outdoors, make sure you have a backup plan if the weather changes. And, of course, you’ll have to decide what food you’re going to serve as well.

Go over each item on your list and check them off as you accomplish them to keep you organized during the planning process.

Party Cocktails and Other Beverages

The drinks are the focus of the cocktail party. You should plan for each guest to have two or three drinks. Be sure that you have wine, beer, and water ready to serve at your celebration. Offer juices and soft drinks, as well as mocktails, for guests who don’t drink.

You have a few options when it comes to presenting the cocktails to guests:

Full Bar 

This allows your guests to choose the guests they like best. This option is great if you have a bar that is well stocked and you’re willing to buy the ingredients to make delicious cocktails. A full bar is also ideal for larger parties.

Drink Menu

If you offer your guests a drink menu, you may encourage them to purchase a cocktail they wouldn’t try otherwise. This option will save you money since you’ll only need the ingredients required to make the drinks on the menu. Choose up to three drinks: one classic cocktail, one fruit-infused drink, and one cocktail with unconventional ingredients. This option is wonderful for smaller cocktail parties.

Pitcher Cocktails 

This is the easiest option if you’re having a large party, since the drinks are already prepared and guests can get their drinks themselves. Choose drinks like vodka and lemonade, margaritas, or sangria and make them ahead of time. Keep the pitchers chilled and offer them on the table with an ice bucket, glasses, and a variety of garnishes.

Food for the Occasion

You don’t have to serve dinner at a cocktail party. However, you do need to provide your guests with finger foods and appetizers that will stave off their hunger during the party.

A fresh vegetable or fruit platter works well for a cocktail celebration; you can serve these platters with hummus or whipped honey and peanut as dipping sauces. It’s also a good idea to offer your guests a platter of cured meats, artisan cheeses, and crostini or pita squares. You can also choose a gourmet dip and serve it with a platter of chips or crackers. Mini quiches and bacon-rolled vegetables are also delicious options for cocktail parties.

Planning a cocktail party can be overwhelming, but the process will get easier each time, especially when you see that your guests are having a great time. Don’t try to make everything perfect; focus on having fun and offering your guests tasty cocktails that will make the night more enjoyable. Just keep referring to your checklist and you’ll have a fun, elegant, and memorable cocktail party planned before you know it.