The epitome of a stylish and sophisticated evening of fun, a cocktail party that has been planned to perfection is sure to leave any guest feeling like they’ve stepped into a James Bond movie.
Cocktail parties can be a lot of fun, regardless of whether you’re at a business meet-and-greet, a friend’s birthday party, or even a wedding reception and they provide you with the opportunity to get dressed to the nines while sipping on a signature cocktail or two.
The only downside? Planning the perfect cocktail party certainly isn’t easy and can take quite the effort in making it the event to remember for all the right reasons. From the drinks menu to the party venue and entertainment to ensuring that everyone gets home safely, there are many factors to consider in the party planning process. In light of this we have put together some simple tips to ensure that your cocktail party will run smoothly providing you and your guests with plenty of fun moments.
Choosing your theme
Every good cocktail party has a theme. From retro Hollywood to old-school gangster, round-the-world adventure to endless summer, the list of themes available is almost endless. The theme you choose will obviously depend on the occasion, your guests, and their tastes and preferences and you will also need to consider how the theme will be reflected throughout the evening. Will there be a dress code? How will the cocktails and food align with your chosen theme? Once you have a plan in place, the next step is sending out the invites.
Deciding who to invite
Creating the perfect party guest list is something of an art form. While the occasion will obviously play an important role in dictating who you must invite, you may also get to enjoy some creative control over who you add to the list of invitees.
So, take some time to think about which of your friends get on well, who is always great fun at a party, and anyone you know who will have a lot of fun with your chosen theme. Don’t forget to consider numbers, either – too few people and a party can feel dead, but invite too many and the atmosphere can feel crowded and stuffy.
Finding the perfect venue
Now it’s time to start comparing nearby party venues. But there’s a lot that goes into ensuring that a space is ideal for your cocktail party and there will be plenty of questions you need to answer before deciding on the right setting. Ask yourself: Is the party venue centrally located and easily accessible? Is there public transport nearby? What about off-street parking? Are there flexible seating arrangements and layouts available? Does the venue provide catering? What are your options in terms of decorating the space? Is there a sound system? And are there easily accessible (and clean) bathrooms available?
Answering these questions will help you form a clearer picture of whether or not a party venue is right for you, and the best thing you can do is visit a space in person to work out whether it’ll be the perfect fit for your party.
Sorting out the food and drinks
It goes without saying that cocktails are one of the most crucial ingredients for a successful evening. This is a cocktail party, of course. Not only will you need to decide on the drinks menu, but you’ll also need to consider how they’ll be served up to guests. The simplest option is to choose a venue with a fully stocked bar and a bartender or two to take care of everything for you, or you may wish to do some mixing yourself or set up a space where your guests can DIY.
Food is also essential, but a cocktail party is no place for a sit-down meal. Finger foods like appetizers and hors d’oeuvres are the name of the game, allowing your guests to keep circulating and chatting while they eat. Many party venues can provide food for you, or you may prefer to hire your own caterers for the evening.
Finally, remember that when organising cocktails and food, it’s always better to over-cater than under-cater, that way you’ll ensure that everyone goes home happy at the end of the night.
What about entertainment?
Next, think about whether you’ll be providing any sort of live entertainment for your guests. Sure, the main aim of a cocktail party is to encourage everyone to mingle and chat, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need any music. An acoustic set can really help set the mood for your evening, or you might prefer the simpler option of tailoring a playlist to create the atmosphere you want.
Alternatively, you might want to encourage your guests to mingle for a couple of hours, then graduate to the dancefloor as the drinks start to flow. If that’s the case, hiring a live band or DJ to kick into action once the evening is in full swing could be a recipe for success.
The bottom line
While planning a cocktail party can be daunting, the results can be spectacular. With a clear plan of how you want the evening to go, you’ll be able to throw a memorable party that’ll put a smile on everyone’s face.