Event Planning: Hosting A Successful Cocktail Party

To host cocktails parties is easy when you plan the details. A guide to decorations, drinks, attire and layout.

Cocktail parties are a great way to entertain friends, colleagues, and neighbors without the need to have room for everyone to sit at a single table for a sit-down dinner. The key to hosting a successful cocktail party is planning well in advance. To begin, take a look around the area in which you will hold the party. Take stock of the number of chairs, as well as open space where people could congregate standing. As you look around, estimate how many people could comfortably fit once you add in extra tables or trays for holding food and drinks.

Secondly, make up your invitation list and decide on a date and time to hold your party. Remember that most guests will choose to arrive approximately 30 minutes after the stated beginning of the party. This means if you want your party to start at 7:30 p.m., you will want to send out invitations that say the party will begin at 7:00 p.m. For the actual invitations, today many people prefer to send electronic invitations because it makes it simple for you to keep track of who is coming and who must decline the invitation. Online invitations also allow you to send a reminder to people who have not responded within a few days of the event or to everyone on your list so that you can give them last minute details or send directions.

When deciding how much food you need for your party, you can estimate that for every two hours of your party that each person will eat twelve pieces. While store bought hors d'oeuvres are simple, they also are expensive. You can save time and delight your guests by cooking your own hors d'oeuvres. It is best to do all the preparations for cooking a couple of days before the party, then you can do all the cooking the day before or the early part of the day of your cocktail party. In addition to hors d'oeuvres you must cook, be sure to purchase nuts you can place in bowls. Fruit and vegetables can be purchased, cut up into pieces, and then arranged on platters with a variety of cheeses to make an interesting and delicious arrangement for your guests to enjoy. When you set out the food, be sure to place it in different areas. People tend to congregate where the food is set out and you do not want the entire party crowded into one small area.

Since you are planning a cocktail party, you must prepare the bar. Your bar will need at least one cocktail shaker, a jigger to measure with, stirrers, and ice. Always be sure to purchase at least one more bag of ice on hand than you really think you will need.A clerk at the local store where you are purchasing your alcohol can help you purchase the right amount for the number of people you are hosting. In addition to the alcohol, be sure to purchase mixers such as orange juice, soda and tonic water, cranberry juice, sweet and dry vermouth, and milk. Lemons and limes also are important to have as many of your guests will want to add these to their drinks.Glassware is something you will need in order to serve the drinks. If you do not have enough glasses for your party, it is inexpensive to rent different types of glasses from a local party supply store.

Finally, the day of your party will arrive. Candles are a nice way to light up the room and make it seem festive and "alive." As your guests begin to arrive, have music on at a level that can be talked over but still helps to make the room seem energetic and festive. A word of caution in order to keep people socializing: do not turn the television on during your party because this will ensure that you will lose some of your guests to watching what is on and not talking to one another. Once all your guests have arrived, it is a nice gesture to make a toast to them. Keep the toast short and simple - using it as a way to thank your guests for coming and sharing the evening with you and each other.

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