Let's talk about how to host a cocktail party, not just a cocktail party, but one to remember! When it comes to hosting dinner parties and even brunches – they can be wonderful, but there is something special about a cocktail party. A cocktail party has a little bit of glitz and glamour, and you can make it as extravagant as you like.
But there are many things you can do to make it extra special – so here are a couple of tips that will make a huge difference to your cocktail party.
When it comes to parties, most people will be in one place for most of the evening. Perhaps they will head from the table or the seating area to the toilet or maybe the garden if there is outside smoking.
Think about where people will put their bags; if you have a shoe-free home, is there enough space for everyone? And depending on the season, you might have thicker coats that take up more room.
Just think about the logistics of where everyone will go and where they will need to put things. Hanging a few coat hangers on a rack will help people keep their coats organized, and what’s more, it makes it even easier when people are leaving to grab their coats and go quickly.
Give the bathroom a deeper clean than on a regular day, and ensure the mirrors are clean and clear. Fresh towels, extra soap, and extra toilet paper save people from having to ask. Place a pot with toothpicks, floss, and a mouth freshener spray so people can make sure nothing is sitting between their teeth.
Picking the right music that everyone likes can be tough, but one of the good things about cocktail parties is that they leave room for a lot of different genres of music. One of the most common is jazz or big band, but you can mix it up a little to include anything upbeat and festive.
Set up your playlist in advance and aim to have around 5 hours or more; press play before people start arriving, leave it on shuffle, and let your chosen music streaming service do the rest.
Here are a couple of good pre-made cocktail party playlists:
- Cocktail Party Music Hits 2023 🍸 Cocktail Bar Musik, Cocktail Lounge Tunes, Cocktailabend – playlist by music moods | Spotify
- Cocktail Party Playlist YouTube
- Apple Music Cocktail Playlist
You can dip all the way back into the Roaring 20s; the trick to it is to make sure that you set the volume just loud enough to hear but not to be louder than the conversation.
For those who have never hosted a more festive dinner party, you might be surprised just how many bottles and glasses you’ll end up with. A cocktail party isn’t as chandelier-swinging as a rave; there is a high possibility that there will be a late evening and more than a few empties.
The term refreshments aren’t just about drinks (both alcoholic and not); it is about little nibbles like nuts, olives, crackers, and more.
One of the nicest ways to present refreshments is by placing them beautifully along a board.
There is an art to making a board of nibbles that looks delicious, though! Here are some of the best options:
- Assorted cheese
- Nuts (check with everyone who might have a nut allergy)
- Dried and fresh fruits (figs look particularly lovely)
- Hummus, cream cheese, and tapenade
- Cured meats
- Raw crunch veggies like celery and carrot sticks
For some flair, add some fresh rosemary, drizzles of honey, capers, mini gherkins, and some thyme.
While these aren’t the main attraction, they will keep people topped up, and what is even better is that often people will talk for longer and get stuck in – plus, a well-put-together board is a feast for the eyes and the stomach.
Regarding drinks, it is important to think about at least one bottle of wine per person. That is three glasses and some extra; according to a Tablespoon, you want about 12 bottles for 20 people for 3 hours.
When planning an event, it's crucial to factor in the right quantity of beverages. Alongside the recommended allocation of wine, considering a variety of refreshment drinks, such as the refreshing jungle bird cocktails, can contribute to a well-rounded and enjoyable experience for all attendees.
Meet the amount of wine per person with the same in soft drinks; even though you might have a party of all drinkers, a little bit of non-alcoholic hydration in between.
Coffee is traditionally served at some point in the meal as a little lift for the guests – often after the main meal and around the time there is a dessert or cheese coming to the table.
If there is one thing that a cocktail party absolutely calls for, it is going all out! For cocktail party attire, there are a couple of more traditional items. Cocktail attire is generally agreed that it is a celebratory type of formal clothing. Here are the most common options:
- Hemline sitting on the knee but not above – Jovani dresses are more demure than a dress for clubbing, although a slightly shorter dress with frills that make it look longer can work.
- A huge train won’t usually work at a cocktail party; they’re better for white or black ties. A midi dress is also perfectly fine, but long dresses are usually reserved for other occasions.
- Trousers are perfect! But jeans, leggings, and anything too fitted aren't usually accepted.
- Clutch bags are perfect; make sure to match them to your shoes and jewelry – glitter, sparkle, and shine are winners for some glitz. With jewelry, there is a balance to find, nothing to OTT unless it is an OTT theme, but a few select pieces you love.
- Wedges, pumps, and block heels are all great – but you don’t need to be too strict on footwear if you want a more relaxed option.
- Anything that should be ironed or is prone to creases should be steamed.
Not every cocktail party is child-free, so try to make sure there is something that they can do while their parents or carers are eating and that there are tasty, kid-friendly options too. If there are no children, then blitz the space! Put away clutter, piles of books, toys, and other messes. Clearing the sides will mean that there are more places for people to place their drinks as the evening goes on.
A combination of peonies and another of the flowers above will give you the scent you are looking for while also being a stunning display. If you don’t want to have a large vase, then you can consider having things on the table instead. Small fairy lights are ideal as the evening goes on; they add a twinkle and effortlessly make the atmosphere cozy and glam.
In terms of tablecloths, white, cream, and gold work perfectly together. But you could choose to go for something like black. Little details like napkin rings, napkins, a table runner, and even some faux gems on the table can look beautiful.
Most of the time, as the evening goes on, people will fall into conversational groups – and that is about as much entertainment as you might need. If it is leaning more into a salon-style cocktail party, then a few things can make the evening a complete success.
Even people who have never played a game of cards or touched a cheese board in real life often like to do something outside of the ordinary. If you have room, place a cheese board with the piece set up with two or more seats surrounding it.
Decks of cards can be a nice addition to a table with ten or more people – have a couple of games in mind, and if you feel there is a lull in the conversation, then get the pack out and see if people want to play.
Depending on the age groups of the guests, a good old-fashioned game of Mario or Guitar Hero can be incredibly enjoyable.
If you have rented a venue or have a lot of space, many of the most glamorous cocktail parties will have live entertainment. While it is usually a band or a singer with a guitarist, you can have any type of entertainment you like. You can do something outside the box and with more surprise by choosing something like a caricature artist or a magician!
It is the details that make a cocktail party something that people will talk about for years, things like making sure there are taxis booked in advance at the end of the night that the main meal is something that people hadn’t eaten before, things like stunning dresses, gorgeous atmospheres and perfect entertainment.
Always remember, though – the whole point of these gatherings is to spend time with the people we love!
Ahead of anyone arriving, here are some of the best tips to have your home looking clean and tidy in no time at all: 22 Clever Ways to a Speedy and Affordable Spring Cleaning.