How to Host the Perfect Cocktail Party and Make it Look Easy!


Hosting a party can be overwhelming. Who do I invite? What should I serve? Should I decorate my home? When do I send invitations? What do I wear? All these questions pop up in my head before I host a party and guess what? They have easy answers. Hosting a party can be easy and fabulous. Let’s chat about cocktail parties!

Before you even start inviting people to your party you need to think about the theme and reason for your party. Are you hosting a fall cocktail party to celebrate the amazing season of autumn? Are you throwing a cocktail party for your best friend? Knowing the reason behind the party helps establish an overall vibe and feeling for your party and shapes everything from invitations to food served.

After you’ve established a theme and reason for your party, you need to start thinking about invitations. Now, I know some people may disagree with me here, but I think you can go either way: evite or actual paper invitations. Here is my rule for invitations: if the gathering is casual and something between your close friends, do an evite. If the gathering is thrown in honor of someone or is a little more formal, go the extra mile and order paper invitations. Make sure the people you invite to your party mesh well. This doesn’t mean everyone has to be best friends; this means that you can tell people will be able to talk amongst themselves without you playing referee.

What will I serve at my cocktail party? This completely depends on the theme or reason for the party. To me, food is probably the most important aspect of a party because everyone is always gathered around the food and talking about the food. This is what people remember. I spend the most of my money when throwing parties on the food and I’ve never regretted that decision! Choose food that isn’t just your favorite, but crowd favorites as well. If you’re getting your party catered, ask the caterer what they recommend in terms of crowd faves and their best dishes. Have a wide variety of foods in terms of vegetarian, gluten free, meat, seafood, etc. It’s also important to know that you will not please everyone at your party. Some people may eat a ton and some people may just nibble. Don’t take it personally! There are lots of dietary restrictions out there and picky people. It’s not you, it’s them!

Let’s chat cocktails. I like to keep it simple and offer wine and beer and one signature cocktail. If you offer 4-5 different types of cocktails, it can get really pricey and/or you can be playing bartender all night instead of visiting with your guests. Make sure you also have options for the non-cocktail drinkers.

Next, think about what you are going to wear to your party. It’s essential for you to be comfortable; hosting a party is not the time to wear your new stilettos that you’ve been wanting to try out. For most cocktail parties I wear a shift dress that isn’t too tight and dressy boots or some sensible heels. I’ve made the mistake too many times of being uncomfortable while at a party and it can put a damper on your evening.

Here’s the kicker for hosting a cocktail party: do not stress! You are human. There will be something that goes wrong and someone who does not show up or even someone who shows up unexpectedly. That’s okay. Take a breath and enjoy your evening. Hosting parties is supposed to be fun and it’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate your friendships!