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How to Plan a Cocktail Party

Aug 17, 2007
Planning any party can be a daunting task but figuring out how to plan a cocktail party can be a real challenge. Sure, it has the same elements as other parties - plenty of appetizers, good friends and good food and drink but the key ingredient is the variety of drinks you serve.

A cocktail party can be a great way to get together with a diverse array of friends and colleagues. Since cocktail parties are typically only for a few hours, you won't have to worry about spending extended time with these folks - just enough for a couple of drinks.

In order to have a successful cocktail party, there is a bit of planning involved. Here's some tips:

1. Go over the guest list carefully. You want to invite an interesting mix of people that will enjoy mingling over cocktails and appetizers. A diverse group will make for interesting conversation. Make sure you invite a few of your more outgoing friends to get things rolling.

2. Get as much of your food and decoration shopping done ahead of time as you can. Plan your menu out ahead of time and buy the necessary ingredients so you will have them on hand that day and not have to run out 10 minutes before guests arrive. What kind of drinks will you be serving? Make sure you have the mixers and alcohol for any type of cocktail your guests might want.

3. Figure out if you will cook or you need a caterer. A cocktail party doesn't really need anything fancy in the way of food - some cheese and crackers will suffice, but if you want some great hors dourves you might want to look into hiring a caterer. You can have one come to the house and serve and clean up, or you can buy appetizers and pop them in the oven yourself. You can even order gourmet appetizers online and get great eats delivered right to your home.

4. Do you need a bartender? Unless you want to be standing behind the bar all night mixing drinks then you might want to think about hiring a bartender. Or assign one of your friends that like to do that sort of thing, it's a great way to meet and talk to everyone at the party!

5. Decorate ahead of time. Save yourself some stress on the day of the party by decorating the day before. This can be a big job and doing it ahead of time will allow for you to run out to the store without impacting your guest arrival schedule if you have forgotten something. When decorating your room, make sure the furniture is pushed aside so guests don't trip on it. Here's some of the things you can do ahead of time so that you can enjoy your party more:

- Set out all the floral arrangements and centerpieces
- Have your cocktail glasses shined and ready
- Choose the music you want to listen to and load it into your CD player
- Double check your beverage and appetizer list and make sure you have what you need.

Your cocktail party can be a fun time even for you, the host, if you are organized and plan ahead. Remember to make lots of lists so you won't forget something at the last minute. Most importantly, relax and have fun!
About the Author
Lee Dobbins writes for Online Gourmet Foods where you can learn more about great appetizers you can serve at your cocktail party.
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