Because of the fluid nature of this party (no pun intended!) you can mix guests who might not feel comfortable sitting across from one another at a three-hour dinner party.
Whether you're an experienced cocktail party host, or are just stepping into the stylish world of cocktail party entertaining, here are tips to help make your next party a successful event:
- Stock up on plenty of ice. You'll need it for chilling bottles of wine or champagne as well as serving in drinks on the rocks. A good rule of thumb is plan to have 1-pound of ice per guest.
- Be prepared with an assortment of glass styles to cover the type of drinks you plan to serve. These include wine glasses for wines, juice and water; straight-sided highballs for tall drinks; tumblers for spirits and juices; and martini glasses.
- Have twice as many glasses on hand as guests. For wine, champagne and martini glasses, wine glass charms will help guests to keep track of glasses as they mill about your party.
- For a 2-hour party where you only plan on serving wine and/or champagne, you'll need to have one bottle for every two guests. Have a mix of white and red varieties. White used to be the predominant favorite, but red is becoming just as popular.
- For a basic bar you'll want to stock up on vodka, whiskey, wines and beer. For a more complete bar you can add gin, tequila, rum, bourbon, vermouth, sherry, and brandy.
- Don't forget to stock up on mixers including orange juice, soda, tonic, ginger ale, cola, tomato juice, Tabasco, lemons, limes, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce.
- If you anticipate your guests will be wine drinkers, you can prepare by uncorking a few bottles in advance, and then replacing the corks.
- Consider hiring a bartender to mix the drinks for your party. That will allow you much more time to socialize with your guests. There are even caterers that specialize in bartending services only.
- Have coffee available for any guests that may need a little assistance at the end of the party. Your local taxi company phone number should also be handy and offered to any guests you believe shouldn't be driving.
- Strive for variety in your menu including seafood, meat selections, finger food, canapes, hot and cold dishes.
- Although sweets are not typically considered cocktail party food, I like to offer one or two sweet nibbles toward the end of the party. In addition to satisfying any lurking sweet teeth, it helps to let guests know that the party will be wrapping up soon.
- When estimating food quantities, plan on serving approximately 6 bites per person, per hour for a two hour party, when no dinner will be served.
- For hors d'oeuvres that are not pieces, such as cheese and dips, one ounce is equivalent to one bite.
- It is always better to overestimate than underestimate the amount of food you serve.