5 Keys to Hosting a Great Cocktail Party

Although a good time can often be had simply by bringing together a few friends to share some adult beverages, throwing a proper cocktail party usually takes a bit more effort. Here are five important elements to pull together to ensure your next soiree is a success.

Set the Tone

You’ll want to decide in advance if your party will have a specific theme or if you’ll opt to keep it more low-key. Once you have a plan, your next task is to properly convey the tone of your event through your invitation. Asking people over via phone or text usually implies that the gathering will be on the casual side, while emailed or posted invitations tend to convey more formality. Keep in mind that regardless of whether your event is themed, casual, or formal, a written invite can help you more easily share details like the location, time, and dress code for the party.

Create a Signature Cocktail

Whether or not your event is themed, it can help benefit both your budget and your preparation time if you plan to feature a signature cocktail. That way you needn’t stock up on a multitude of spirits and mixers; just lay in a good supply of what’s required for your concoction, then supplement with basics like red and white wine, beer, water, and sodas for those who don’t fancy the cocktail du jour. Go with a crowd-pleasing pick like a Moscow Mule, and perhaps opt to include some flavored vodkas to give your signature drink a unique twist.

Provide Delectable Hors D’Oeuvres

Although the focus of a cocktail party might be on the drinks, you’ll want to have plenty of delicious munchies available for your guests. Whether you opt to prepare or purchase your offerings, or you decide to have your event professionally catered, bear in mind that whatever you serve should be easy to eat while mingling. Cut veggies, fruits, cheeses, and cured meats are always appropriate when presented alongside a selection of breads or crackers. Chips, dips, and nuts are also popular choices. For something warmer and heartier, finger foods like sliders, spring rolls, and flatbreads can be set out or passed.

Build the Perfect Playlist

For many people, a cocktail gathering represents the chance to mix and converse with folks they might not see every day. If the music you typically favor is best blasted at a high volume, it may not be conducive to peoples’ ability to engage with others. Try to put together a playlist full of tunes that fit the tone of your party, i.e. smooth jazz songs for a more sophisticated soiree, or classic rock hits for a casual get-together. Then, make sure the music is more background noise than in-your-face cacophony. If your guests want to let loose and cut a rug, you can always crank up the volume once the party gets hopping.

Arrange for a Happy Send-Off

Perhaps the biggest factor in throwing a successful cocktail party is making sure everyone has only great memories of your event. As things begin to wind down, offer coffee and water to stave off hangovers and other ill effects of over-imbibing. It’s also a good idea to provide transportation options for your guests, so there’s little worry that anything troubling will happen once they say goodnight. Designated drivers and rideshares can be arranged ahead of time to help ensure that everyone arrives home safely.

By planning out these key elements, you can rest assured you’ve done your part in putting together the perfect cocktail party. Just a bit of effort beforehand can help make your event a success.