Tips to Plan a Successful Cocktail Party

Mushroom Mini Quiche
Cocktail Party Snacks
Chocolate Ganache Tartlets

Love the parties but hate the planning? Confused about how much food to order? Having nightmares about running out of snacks during your party? We are here to help! Here are some tips to help you plan a successful and fun cocktail party that will take the stress off your shoulders and let you enjoy a great evening with your guests!

How much food should you order?

That depends on the time and duration of your party. Is it a casual office party in the early evening? Or are you making an evening out of it and will therefore need more food? How to decide on the menu? Should it be an equal mix of sweet and savory, vegetarian and non-vegetarian? Is it a good idea to mix hot and cold appetizers? These are some of the questions we will help you answer in your quest to organize a fun event. Here are some general guidelines.

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: For a cocktail party for 20 guests, cater for 12 small bites per guest.  Total 240 pieces. Get a good mix of savory and sweet bites based on your taste and your knowledge of your guests’ preferences.

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: For a cocktail party for 20 guests, cater for an average of 25 small bites per guest.  Total 500 pieces. Don’t forget to take into account the dietary restrictions and meal preferences of your guests. It’s always a good idea to have more than one vegetarian and/or vegan option!

What about drinks?

Allow 2 drinks per person for the first hour and 1 drink for 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 of spirit yields about 20 mixed drinks, roughly speaking.  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 drinks 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.

And lastly, 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. Having said that, make sure that the music is playing softly in the background and not distracting people from conversations.

Indirect lights and candles will set a warm and relaxed atmosphere. Fresh flowers add a delicate and sophisticated touch. Try to stay away from flowers with over-powering fragrances. In the same way, avoid using room fresheners, cleaning products or perfumes with very strong aromas. The objective is to create a pleasant, relaxed and discreet ambiance for your guests to enjoy.

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.

We hope you found these cocktail party planning tips useful.If you have any questions or would like to book a free consultation to help you cater your event, please don’t hesitate to send us an email at