Ideas + Advice


Cocktail Party Ideas: Food, Drinks + Decor Tips for a Perfect Soiree

Cocktail parties have been popular for generations, and for good reason: they are simple enough to plan and don’t require a large amount of food or preparation, which means you can quickly and easily set up a cocktail party for the next weekend and people will be thrilled to join.

To make your cocktail party a success, here are a few tips:

Take It Outside

If the weather is nice, plan to host the party on your patio: people will enjoy being outdoors and it adds its own ambiance. To take things up a notch, hang string lights and set candles on your tables. You’ll also want to tidy up your outdoor furniture and bring some extra chairs out so everyone can sit if they like. (And for some extra fun, add a firepit!)

Ask for Help

There’s no reason you have to do all the work yourself. Have some friends volunteer to mix drinks or help with the food – they can swap out every half hour so everyone gets to enjoy the party, while freeing you up to host.

Clear the Living Room

If you’re hosting indoors, make sure to move furniture in your living room and dining room to the sides. Leave plenty of space for standing around and chatting while still making sure there are also seats for those who prefer to sit.

Choose a Few Drinks

It’s a good idea to limit the number of cocktails on the menu. Try offering three to five different mixed drinks, plus some beer and wine. (Most guests will have two to three drinks, so plan accordingly!) Don’t forget that some people may prefer to skip the alcohol for one reason or another; for these types of guests, setting up a couple of mocktails will suffice.

Hands-Off Drinks

Prefer to chat instead of mixing drinks? Try making pitchers of sangria, Long Island Iced Tea or whatever other drinks you choose. Avoid adding the carbonated mixers until serving and keep everything chilled. This allows you to set out the pitchers and the glasses so everyone can serve themselves. Add some beers in an ice bucket, and you have a self-serve bar with minimal effort. This setup can be served on a countertop, kitchen table or a bar top.

Create a Dining Table Feast

Food for a cocktail party doesn’t need to be complicated. It’s simplest to set up a buffet-style option on the dining room table so everyone can file around the table and fill their plates with snacks and appetizers. Use trays or bowls of ice to keep things cool if necessary. Everything should be easy to eat with fingers and you can place small dessert plates to avoid anyone from piling too much food on at once.

Use Bar Stools as Tables

If your bar is full of food or drinks, put those bar stools to good use by placing them throughout the house as small tables. People mingle standing up, and the stools give them a place to set down a drink or a plate of food. To keep the surfaces easy to clean, cover the stools with small tablecloths.

Don’t Forget the Music

You’ll want music to play at the party, so plan ahead and set up your speakers in different rooms to ensure the music plays throughout. You should try to keep the noise away from sitting areas, such as the sofa and armchairs. Instead, make a point of aiming the sound toward the main standing areas, in the kitchen or living room.
Cocktail parties are the perfect way to get your friends and family together – especially when you plan ahead with plenty of appetizers and cocktails to ensure everyone has a wonderful time.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.