Cocktail Party Planning

Planning a successful cocktail party is simple if you follow a few basic pieces of advice on preparation, food and entertaining.

Are you planning to host a party? What preparations can you take care of a week in advance and what needs to wait until the day of the party? Follow these steps for a successful cocktail party.

The first step in hosting a party that everyone raves about is to make sure to choose your guests carefully. The secret is to invite people who are different, of different age groups and different professions. This way you have a unique blend of people who can carry on a wide array of conversations.

Once you have completed your guest list, it's time to mail out invitations. Invitations should be sent 2-3 weeks in advance. If you are having a formal party, you should consider having the invitations printed by a professional printer. You should also decide whether or not guests need to RSVP. This is especially important if you are preparing a full dinner.

A week before the party, you should plan the menu and do the shopping. This includes any decorations or paper products you will need. There are some items you will buy the day before or even day of the party, such as flowers.

If you are preparing a large amount of food, plan dishes that can be made a day or two in advance. This way, you won't be frantic the day of the party trying to prepare all of the food.

The size of the party and the amount of money you are able to spend will determine whether or not you hire a caterer. If you are hosting a large party, it is wise to hire someone else to prepare the food. Otherwise, you will spend the entire evening in the kitchen and not out with your guests. Compared to making the food yourself, caterers are expensive. If you are able to afford a caterer, it's wise to get recommendations from friends or family. Unless you already have the caterer selected, it's best to get quotes from a couple of different caterers. If you can afford the expense, hiring a caterer is the best food option for your party.

You may also need to hire a bartender and/or server. If you are hosting a large party, this is the easiest way to make sure your guests are taken care of. It's also a good way for someone to monitor any guests who might be getting too intoxicated to drive. Make it clear to the bartender to stop serving guests who are drinking too much. You should also be prepared to arrange transportation for any guest who is intoxicated.

Use the day before the party to decorate. This is also the time to put away any valuables and to set up serving tables or move furniture out of the way. You should also buy flowers and fresh foods, such as vegetables.

The morning of the party should be used to set the table, including place cards, and ice down beverages, such as beer and wine. You should also make your centerpiece and other floral arrangements and make your salads. Select the music for the party and load the CD player.

One hour before the party you should open the red wine and set out non-refrigerated hors d'oeuvres. Then take one last lookover to make sure you haven't forgotten anything.

Spend the last 30 minutes before guests arrive getting dressed and freshening up.

Once the guests arrive, enjoy yourself and have fun.

© High Speed Ventures 2011