Gone are the days when cocktail parties lasted only a couple of hours either side of sunset. More often it’s an all-night affair, and we know, some even carry on until the sun rises again! And that’s just the way it should be. But it also means you have to prepare a little better, add a bit more food and order a couple more bottles of bubbly to see that your guests don’t lack for anything as they start celebrating the end of the year.
Here are our top cocktail party entertaining tips.
- First of all, make a list of all the things that need to be considered: How many guests? What’s your budget? Do you have enough seating, tables, cutlery and glasses for everyone?
- Send out invites in good time – you’re not the only one throwing a party this time of year. Be sure to follow up with a quick phone call.
- Venue: It’s always best to host your party at your own home, as you are familiar with your surroundings. It also saves you money. That said, a stylish marquee tent can be adorned with sheer linens and fairy lights that twinkle against the evening sky, instantly extending your entertaining area. If you’re hiring a venue, ensure it’s clean, has parking, kitchen facilities, there’s space for a music system, tables for food and a bar area.
- Ensure a good selection of bite-sized treats, such as cold finger foods, delicious dips and good extra virgin olive oil with crusty fresh bread, miniature warm pizzas, laden with fresh gourmet toppings and a few sweet delicacies.
- Arrange platters around the space of your home where you and your guests will be moving about and keep an eye out for when you need to top up.
- Napkins are essential, and should be readily available to guests.
- There should be a variety of soft drinks, waters, wines and champagne. Or you could mix up large pitchers of fruity cocktails rimmed with flavoured salts. And don’t forget, one can never have enough ice.
- Good lighting sets the mood; use huge candles, dim lighting or beautiful pieces of art lamp work (feather lights) to soften and compliment the surroundings.
- Hook up your iPod to the house music system and play a mix of your favourite tunes. Or keep a stack of easy listening CDs close at hand, like the complete collection of Café del Mar and the global sounds of Putumayo.
- Don’t forget to tell the neighbours you’re having a party! Or, if all else fails, invite them along.
CALCULATING FOOD AND DRINK QUANTITIES
For a party of 20 people, lasting around 4 hours, you’ll need:
14 bottles of bubbly
11 bottles of white wine
6 bottles of red wine
7-10 litres of soft drinks and waters
4 platters of cold canapés
2 large salads
2 platters of breads
2 platters of fork dishes
3 platters of something small and sweet