How To Throw a Cocktail Party

A drinks or cocktail party is a great idea for a special occasion, since it’s an easy way to entertain a group of people in a set period of time.

  • Specify arrival and departure times so that guests don’t overstay their welcome, and don’t seat them at tables – it’s not necessary.
  • Finger food should be just that – food that can be eaten with the fingers, and preferably in one or two bites. This means you can serve it with paper serviettes – make sure you have lots of them – but you won’t have to worry about supplying individual plates or utensils.
  • Plan to serve about 4-5 pieces of finger food per person for the first hour and about 4 pieces per person for every hour after that.
  • When you’re devising a menu, be sure to include both hot and cold finger food, so that one dish can be served while another is being heated.
  • Choose recipes that can be prepared ahead and heated quickly.
  • If you’re serving coffee at the end of the evening, serve sweet finger food to go with it – or cut a celebratory cake into tiny portions and serve.
  • Try to include a few things that can be set out before guests arrive, such as antipasti, a cheese platter, dips, nuts, olives and so on.
  • Don’t forget the humble sandwich – nicely presented, of course. They’re easy, inexpensive, versatile, alcohol-absorbent and always popular.
  • Make sure you have an attractive fruit-based, non-alcoholic ‘mocktail’ on offer as well.
  • Don’t serve too large a selection of cocktails and prepare ahead by pureeing or cutting up fruit, squeezing juice or making sugar syrup.
  • Consider hiring a couple of bar staff to serve the drinks and food, even if you’re planning to prepare it all yourself.