Cocktail Party Planning

Written by Rebecca Russell
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Cocktail parties are deceptively simple. When starting out, it seems the easiest thing in the world to invite a few people over and serve them delicious drinks and stunningly prepared food. However, you will almost always find that the details of planning a cocktail party can become increasingly complex. A good strategy and a level head are imperative for executing a fabulous party.

Planning Tips for a Cocktail Party

Start by envisioning the kind of party you would like to have. Are your guests formally dressed or will this be a more casual affair? Will you have a large crowd or an intimate gathering? If this is your first cocktail party, or you have budget limitations, you may want to keep the guest list small. A small but elegant party is often preferable to a large party that is poorly planned.

Shopping will be the greatest challenge and there are a few good things to keep in mind before you travel to the store. It is often easier to make smaller, well-timed trips to the market to stock up for your party. A gigantic list and piles of groceries can overwhelm even the veteran party planner. Begin with a list of drink ingredients. Scan a cocktail book for some interesting recipes before going to the store. Aside from staples such as gin, vodka, rum and whiskey, invest in martini makings and some interesting, flavored liquor.

If you plan to cook or bake, your next trip should be for these items. If possible, prepare your homemade foods a day in advance. This will leave ample time for cleaning and backup plans if a new recipe goes awry. Your last trip should be any pre-made foods and ice. Above all, remember that the cardinal rule of cocktail parties is to always purchase extra ice.


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