So you want to know how to plan a cocktail party? What are the most important aspects of it you’ll need to address? What is the perfect time for this event, and what type of food and drinks should you have? Here, we will give you a couple of tips that will help you organize the best cocktail party for your friends.
When Should a Cocktail Party Start?
Planning a cocktail party can be so much fun, but you need to pick the right time. You don’t want it to be too early, nor do you want to keep your guests late. Your goal is to find that perfect time that’s just right. So when is the perfect time for a cocktail party?
Usually, this type of party starts later on in the day. However, it is often outside the time frames reserved for meals. You should aim for a period in the late afternoon, either before dinner or half an hour after what people consider dinner time. To be precise, it is around 7 or 7:30 p.m.
Most commonly, cocktail parties last for two or three hours, so the ending time should be around 9 or 10 p.m. Now that we have covered the time, we should also address the date. The ideal day for hosting this type of party is Friday or Saturday.
The Right Number of People
The first thing you’ll need to consider is whether there is a specific occasion for the party. This will also give you an idea of what type of people you should invite. In some cases, you will invite only close friends and relatives, while in others, it will be open for acquaintances and plus-ones.
What is the right number of people to invite? Is there a limit? Well, inviting less than six people might be a mistake. You will have only a few guests, and there is a chance that it won’t feel like a party. On the other hand, having twenty people over might be too challenging to manage, and you won’t be able to dedicate enough time to each of your guests.
Once again, it mostly depends on the type of party and the occasion, but you can stick to six to twenty (or fifteen).
What Food to Serve
Since cocktail parties don’t last long compared to other events, and they are often between meals, there is no reason to organize or plan a full-course meal. The best idea for the party menu is to stick to simple food like hors d’oeuvre, other types of finger food, and something that will help your guests if they feel snakish. This can also include home-cooked meals like bruschetta or tapenade. Crackers are always a safe option too. Furthermore, you don’t need to spend hours cooking, and something simple like crackers and cheese (or a fruit platter) will be more than satisfying.
Just remember that your guests are not there for an all-you-can-eat buffet, and the idea of cocktail parties is to have a snack in-between a couple of drinks. So the food at a cocktail party shouldn’t be over-the-top.
Drinks for the Guests
Now, onto the fun part. Obviously, drinks are one of the most important parts of a cocktail party. Some people suggest that the safest option is to make one or two cocktails that everyone will enjoy. You don’t need to go over the top, and something classic like Manhattan will be enough. If this is something that sounds great for your taste, you will need to ensure that you have enough material to make cocktails for your guests.
Usually, the safe number of drinks to prepare at a cocktail party is two or three per person. You can always add a couple of beers and a few bottles of wine to the equation (just in case). It is possible that your guests will bring their own beer or wine, so you will undoubtedly have enough for everyone.
The second option is to offer a full bar. It is a great choice for all those people that are already well-stocked or willing to buy a lot of alcoholic drinks. This way, they will be able to make whatever they like, but it is a more expensive option.
You can also print a drink menu, which is an “in-between” option. This way, you won’t need to buy all the drinks in the world, and the guests will have a great time experimenting with the provided options. Drink menus are a perfect way to “force” your guests to step out of their comfort zone and try something new.
Of course, it all comes down to how much you are willing to invest in the party (both time- and money-wise).