If you've recently joined the ranks of fully fledged adults and moved into a home of your own, you're probably looking forward to hosting gatherings with friends and family. However, if you've never played host before, you're probably feeling at least some degree of anxiety at the thought of being at the helm of home entertaining.
Having a simple cocktail party provides an excellent way for new hosts to get their feet wet in the wonderful world of home entertaining. The key to throwing a successful cocktail party is to not overthink it. All you need to do is follow a few simple strategies, and you've got a great party on your hands. Following are four things you need to do in order to create a fun and memorable cocktail party.
1. Create a Signature Cocktail
A signature cocktail cuts down on bartending duties and leaves hosts with more time to mingle with their guests. The cocktail should be something simple that doesn't involve a great deal of ingredients and can be made up ahead of time. Vodka and orange, traditionally called a screwdriver, is an excellent choice. It's something most people like, and you can prepare several pitchers of it in advance.
2. Stock the Basics
You should also stock a few basic liquor selections such as whiskey, rum, and gin as well as a small selection of general mixers in order to offer something to guests who aren't fans of your signature cocktail. It's also important to provide non-alcoholic options for the designated drivers in the bunch.
3. Serve Food
Every good cocktail party has a small variety of finger food available. You don't need to provide anything fancy -- a good cheese and cracker board along with two or three hot items such as chicken fingers and clam strips will do. During the summer months, you can get away with offering a standard cold deli tray, but there should be something hot available during winter, particularly if you live in an area that experiences significant seasonal cold temperatures.
4. Designate a Specific Time Frame
Cocktail parties traditionally begin in the late afternoon and last until early evening. Designating a specific time frame on your invitations helps prevent uncomfortable situations caused by guests who want to linger later into the night. Don't forget to have one or two designated drivers on hand in the event that any of your guests are uncomfortable driving home after enjoying an adult beverage.