Planning and being organized will take the stress off your shoulders and let you enjoy a great evening with your guests!
Below are a few tips on how to choose the food and quantities according to your cocktail party’s duration. It can also be a good idea to mix hot and cold appetizers to add some variety to your buffet.
How much food should you order? For a 2 to 3 hour cocktail party outside dinner hours:
Offer a selection of 5 to 6 hors d’oeuvres with 1- 2 pieces of each kind per guest.
Example: Cocktail party for 20 guests: 12 pieces per guests. Total 240 pieces. (Divide the total between savory and sweet based on your tastes.)
For a full evening during dinner hours:
Offer a selection of 8 to 10 hors d’oeuvres with 2 – 3 of each kind per guest.
Example: Cocktail party for 20 guests: average of 25 pieces per guest. Total 500 pieces. (Divide the total between savory and sweet based on your tastes.)
Allow 2 drinks per person for the first hour, and 1 drink each subsequent hour.
A budget-conscious approach is to offer cocktails made from one or two spirits only (for example Gin, Vodka, or Rum). A 1 liter bottle (about nine-tenths of a quart) of spirit yields about 20 mixed drinks. So you can easily work out how many bottles to buy according to the number of guests attending.
You can also offer only wine. Allow one bottle for 6 to 8 glasses, and note that white wine is usually more popular than red. A bottle of Champagne will yield about 6 flutes.
Make sure to offer non-alcoholic “mock-tails” and water (still and sparkling) for guests who do not drink alcohol.
Garnishes add a sophisticated touch to your drinks so plan on having some lemon and lime slices, olives, and cherries.
Don’t forget the ice! Nothing is worse than warm cocktails or wine!
Music and social
Make a couple of playlists featuring your favorite tunes, as long as they make your guests relaxed and comfortable.
Indirect lights and candles will set a warm and relaxed atmosphere. Fresh flowers can add a delicate and sophisticated touch.
Make sure to greet all your guests upon arrival and introduce them to each other. Suggest topics they might have in common or how you met. This will break the ice and help them start talking to each other while you attend to your other guests.