Are you planning a cocktail party? If you are, don’t scare your guests away by trying to throw an over-the-top cocktail party in terms of money. Plan a fun, but thrifty cocktail party, so that everyone can enjoy themselves, without feeling the need to be pretentious. Here are ten tips for hosting a successful cocktail party:
Start with the invitations. Formal invitations sometimes set people off, making them feel as if they have to be up for a big presence when they attend a formal function. So, why not make your cocktail party a business casual-type party? This type of cocktail party provides time for your guests to relax. Just send e-vites and ask for responses. If you don’t get responses, make phone calls.
Decorate with function. You really don’t need to purchase flowers and other expensive decorations. Use lots of cheap greenery for decoration. Use lots of green herbs, arranged nicely into clear vases. You can even use clean, whole scallions (green onions) arranged in clear vases as decoration. This way, your guests can even eat these, if they so choose. Fresh fruits and colorful vegetables even serve as colorful decorations.
Use what you have. You could plan your menu and then go out and buy everything you need, but you’ll end up spending a fortune shopping this way. Why not work with what you have first, and you can then go out and buy extra. For instance, do you have some sour cream you need to use? If so, then make a dip, and you can buy some chips to go with it. Do you have some unused flour tortillas? Make pinwheels. Creativity can save you some bucks.
Limit the bubbly. It gets costly when you try to serve bar drinks because you need to think of everyone’s tastes, and you then likely end up still not pleasing all your guests, so why not limit the bubbly to one type of drink, or maybe two? You can get decent Sangria for a fairly low cost. You can either make your own, or you can call your local liquor store and see about a bulk-purchase discount. If you’d rather, you can serve white wine and red wine.
Make lots of finger foods. If your guests have to stand in line for food, this takes away from the carefree atmosphere of your cocktail party. Skip the buffet line and serve lots of finger foods. Flour tortilla pinwheels, finger sandwiches, miniature pigs-in-a-blanket, miniature meat pies, and other such foods work well for a cocktail party. Avoid foods that require toothpicks because you never know where the toothpicks will end up in your home.
Use throw aways. Be sure to purchase the nice, cocktail-type disposal drinking cups and cocktail napkins. This way you don’t have to worry about dishes. You can just toss these drink cups after your guests go home. If one of your guests just happens to walk out with a drink, you’ve lost nothing in terms of dishes, and the small glass limits the amount of alcohol that a guest can leave with.
Surround the table. Be sure to place lots of greenery in the middle of the table for decoration. (If you have nice furniture, then skip the tablecloth and enjoy the natural look.) Surround your table decorations with lots of different types of finger foods and place napkins on the corners of the table (or somewhere in between the food dishes). This way, people can snack while they mingle with other guests.
Break out the coasters. Don’t just offer drink coasters; spread these out throughout the parts of the house that your guests will be in. First, this gives your guests permission to put down their glasses (while it puts you at ease about your furniture). Too, the coasters, if well placed, can act as boundary markers, meaning guests know where you expect them to mingle, and the coasters help the guests recognize where not to go with food and drinks.
Employ the kids. If you have school-age kids, don’t send them away from your cocktail party; let them help with the party. If your kids are charmers, let them mingle. They could even help keep the food on the table full, or even answer the door. Just make sure that your kids know not to touch the alcohol (for serving or drinking). Some guests might forget that kids aren’t supposed to touch alcohol and might ask for a drink refill.
Pass out good-bye gifts. If your cocktail party is small, you might want to add an extra touch: a good-bye gift. This doesn’t have to be expensive. You could give single-serving bottles of liquor/liqueur with ribbons tied around them. You could even give small homemade snacks for your guests to take back to the office. Even better, make a big batch of flavored popcorn for your guests to eat over the weekend. Whatever you send, your guests will feel special when they leave.