I always feel a bit of extra stress whenever I am planning a party. As a person that plans events for a living, I am constantly asked “how to” planning questions from friends and family organizing their own parties. The latest round of questions was all about cocktail party planning and tips to ensure an enjoyable and delicious time. As it happens cocktail parties are my most favorite parties to organize. They are easy peasy to plan, filled with fun and pretty low cost when it comes to the budget.
The three main recipe fixings for a traditional yet successful cocktail party is; planning, friends and the menu. Cocktail parties are a great way to catch-up and have some plain old friend fun. Classically a cocktail party lasts for about three or four hours and incudes a scrumptious array of food and of course cocktails while providing the opportunity to enjoy friends.
Really the secret to any great party is when the stress free host has just as much fun as the invited guests.
Cocktail Party Planning Tip One – It’s All About the Planning
Enjoyable parties don’t happen by accident. When it comes to planning we all want to throw the best possible party. And even the most basic of parties require some pre-thinking and foresight. By taking the time to think ahead and then mix it with a bit of planning and creativity, will provide the perfect combination for a stress free party experience.
First and foremost ask yourself; what kind of party do I want to throw? And once you’ve answer that question and decided on formal and elegant or informal and laid back, you can begin the planning process. As mentioned, planning and preparation is the key to any party’s success. And when cocktail party planning and looking for an effortless experience, it is essential to track all and I do mean all, the require items and tasks on a checklist. Be sure to take into account the theme, food, beverages, rentals, decorations and entertainment, and every other thing needed and then determine a budget. And a checklist and budget are definitely no good unless you put it to use.
Cocktail Party Planning Tip Two – It’s All About the Friends
An important part of cocktail party planning is creating the just right guest list. For so many reasons it’s crucial to make and be true to a guest list; first to ensure no one is missed, second so you don’t go over budget and third so the number of guests you invite can in deed fit the space.
It goes without saying you want to invite a group of likable and interesting people, that love socializing over good food and drinks and enjoy a groovy shindig. In part party success depends on guests that are outgoing, gregarious and able to engage in stimulating conversation. So make your list and yes check it twice, consider the different people and their personalities, how they will or won’t intermingle and ask yourself, are they the right fit for this party or not. Good guests make for a good party and compatibility is definitely the name of the game to keep the conversation flowing and the party entertaining. Compatibility is definitely the name of the game to keep the conversation flowing and the party entertaining. Don’t forget good guests make for a good party.
Cocktail Party Planning Tip Three – It’s All About the Menu
A great thing about a cocktail party is the guests are able to socialize while at the same time enjoy a beverage or more and a bite. When talking menu my first bit of advice is to follow the KISS rule, keep it simple silly. Simplify the menu and don’t make thing too difficult for yourself. If you think you have to be all things to all people and provide a huge variety of fixings’ you will end up spending too much and generating way to much work. With enough time even if the budget is tight you can create a wonderfully delicious yet simple spread. So be creative with your menu options and make life easier while helping to control costs. Consider serving easy to make (and delicious) hors d’oeuvres and appetizer platters. And keep in mind guests will forgo dinner and load up on party hors d’oeuvres and it is the task of the host to balance it all out, providing enough food without having lots of leftovers. Typically I plan for at least ten different kinds of hors d’oeuvres and assume on average a guest will consume 10-20 pieces.
Of course when throwing a cocktail party it is imperative to have cocktails. When it comes to the bar, we all have the fear we’ll run out of something. So we think we have to overstock it with every single thing and lots of it. So not true! A good bar should be stocked with wine and beer and a variety of liquors and fixings to make your friend’s favs as well as the in-style drinks. Remember the bar should be set up and ready prior to the guests’ arrival. And don’t forget about extra, cause you will need it ice, glassware, garnishes and plenty of non-alcoholic beverages. Once you have an idea of the bar set up you will want to estimate the amount of supplies necessary to accommodate your guests. On average each guest will consume two drinks within the first hour and then one drink every hour after that.