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How to Host a Cocktail Party

Holding a successful cocktail is about generating a convivial atmosphere in which people feel relaxed. However, you also need to maintain a relatively high level of sophistication. Striking the balance between formality and informality is tricky. Assuming you have your cocktail recipes prepared, here's what you need to do to prepare.

  • Select the right time and date for a cocktail party. Unlike an informal house party, you should set a time that is not too late yet not too early. About 8pm is the right time to have guests arrive for cocktails because this means that they should have eaten already and that the party is about one thing in the main: cocktails. Choose a Friday or Saturday night, if possible, unless you are entertaining business guests when a weekday event—which finishes at a reasonable hour—is perfectly acceptable.

  • Invite the right people to your cocktail party. Given that cocktail parties are about a touch of glamour and sophistication, you ought to consider your guest list thoroughly before sending out invitations. Try to avoid people who won't feel comfortable at this sort of event, for instance, non-drinkers. Encourage a smart appearance with your invitations. This usually means cocktail dresses for ladies and suits for males. Tuxedos are preferable for men, but business or lounge suits are okay too unless your event will be very formal in style.

  • Do serve food with your drinks. If you have no food to go with your cocktails, then something will be missing from the party. Ensure that catering is of a high quality and that there are enough caterers to serve your food. Cocktail canapés are all that is needed to keep people's stomachs lined whilst they enjoy a drink or two over the course of the evening. Finger food is ideal for these sorts of events where people are more likely to be standing and chatting rather than sitting down to eat.

  • Provide cocktail-friendly music. When you create an atmosphere of charm and sophistication, it is usually the music you choose which will be the key to its success. If possible, hire a live pianist to play cocktail music which should be entertaining but never in-your-face. If that is not possible then select a playlist of lounge jazz which will help to generate the right feeling among guests. Avoid up-tempo music and sounds that are too poppy. Laid-back and smooth sounds are ideal to make your party go with a swing.

For more information or ideas for your event, contact a local catering company.