Cocktail party planning is easy to plan and glamorous yet relatively inexpensive.
When planning your party, it helps to choose a theme. This doesn’t mean all your guests have to show up dressed like pirates or their favorite movie stars—a theme can be discreet, such as a flavor or color that is present throughout the entire evening. A creative theme can make your party feel special without adding to your budget, and it will help you come up with ideas for food, drinks, and decorations.
The key to any great party is for the host to have as much fun as the guests. This guide will make the experience easy and stress-free: It covers all the planning, from selecting a menu and setting up the bar to booking a venue.
Planning the Menu
The traditional cocktail party planning fare is small, savory finger foods that can be eaten in one or two bites. Typically, hors d’oeuvres are served before a meal and are not meant to be a substitute for a meal—the French “hors d’oeuvre”translates to “outside of meal.” However, nowadays I find that it’s common for hors d’oeuvres to wind up replacing meals, so if your party takes place during normal lunch or dinner hours, plan to serve enough food to constitute a meal.
Planning the Cocktails
The name says it all: Cocktails are a must at a cocktail party. While you can wait a bit to serve the food, you should have the drinks ready when the first guests walk through the door—it gives people something to do and gets them mingling.
There are three main approaches to serving drinks and each has merits.
1. A full bar includes a wide variety of liquors and mixers.
2. A themed bar focuses on one type of liquor and an assortment of mixers.
3. A signature cocktail bar features one or two mixed drinks.
Regardless of the way you choose to serve cocktails, be sure to include an appropriate amount of wine and beer. And always have plenty of water (make it special by serving sparkling water with lemon or berries) and at least one other nonalcoholic option, such as Virgin Mojito or simple Lemonade.
On average, 60 percent of invited guests will show up to a party. If you invite closer friends only, about 75 percent will come. Always invite some new faces to make the party more interesting. And, since there are always last-minute cancellations and no-shows, invite one extra person for every ten who say they are coming.
If your cocktail party planning has a theme, use that to establish the look of your invitations. For example, in lieu of a traditional invitation send an object that communicates the theme of your party. Or keep it simple and use e-mail invitations, which are easy to send and make keeping track of RSVPs a snap. Add some personality with a photo of yourself or background music.
Setting the Scene
When choosing a location, think about the season and theme of your party—for example, have it in a room with a view of the garden if it’s spring, or in a banquet in summers and winters.
So, arrange furniture so that guests can move throughout the banquet room easily, clearing out extra furniture if necessary. Although most guests will be mingling, leave some furniture placed against the walls or in small clusters—there should be seating for 10 to 15 percent of your guests.
If the space you choose is going to be crowded, use a large (preferably round) center table as the one and only food station. If your space is a little too big for the number of guests, then use multiple small tables to create mini food stations, which will encourage guests to move throughout the banquet.
Don’t forget to include small drop tables where guests can put used glasses or napkins. Place a tray on the table to signal that it’s a drop-off area. This will also make it easier for you to pick up any discarded items.
Some Cocktail venues which you might want to check out are: (Name of 2 banquets for cocktail party planning in every city with links)
On the Day of Party
Prepare a timeline and a check list to help you out doing things faster and in an organized way. So, check up with the banquet manager a few hours before to make sure the preparation is going well. Keep extra glassware in case of excess use or breaking of some! Take time to get ready and sleep well to avoid baggy eyes and finally enjoy! It’s a party and not a job !
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