Cocktail Party Creed
Raise your right hand and say, “People are what makes a cocktail party.” This is the first rule to remember at all times. The number one mistake a host is likely to make is focusing too much on the minor details of a party. If you remember only one thing from this chapter, remember this: Cocktail parties are about conversations, connecting, laughing, and feeling good.
Your job is to create an environment where people can relax and where the natural thing to do is enjoy themselves. To make this kind of a five-star cocktail party, you need to supply five ingredients: drink, food, music, ambiance, and amusement.
The first step is to buy a notebook to keep all of your thoughts and ideas organized. Don't be afraid to jot down anything to get started or to insert any ideas you might find in a magazine. Next, you must seek answers to the following questions to determine some basic factors in your planning:
What or who is this party for?
Approximately how many people will be invited?
What is your budget?
You might think that you can remember everything when planning a cocktail party, but even the best of the best carry around a notebook of some kind. The pages of the notebook will go through many ripped-out, chicken-scratched stages, but don't worry. This is what everyone goes through when beginning the creative process.
What or Who Is This Party For?
There are many reasons to host a cocktail party. You might give one for friends and family or for office coworkers. You might want to do networking, or put on a singles bash, or celebrate a birthday, anniversary, raise, retirement, new job, or housewarming. Your party could precede an event like the ballet or a concert. It's important to keep in mind at all times the reason for the event because this will light-speed you back to reality when you are lost in the cocktail party–planning jungle of drinks and food and music, oh my!
After you are clear about what or who the cocktail party is for, you can decide on a theme. Please understand that the traditional idea of a theme is not necessary, so don't feel pressured to come up with one. An invitation that simply describes a “cocktail party” is fine. That's a theme in its own right. The reason you must know who or what the party is for is that you will want to cater it accordingly.
Approximately How Many People Will Be Invited?
Cocktail parties can range in size from 10 to 10,000 guests. It's very important to know approximately how many people will be invited because this number is the basis of the math you will have to do for everything related to the party. How else will you be able to calculate the amount of food and drink and the number of invitations, napkins, glasses, and so on? So make a list, check it twice, and always invite the naughty and the nice for a memorable party.
A good cocktail party will have somewhere between 15 to 40 people and will last two to three hours in order to keep the energy and conversation levels up. Remember that the first hour allows time for the fashionably late to arrive. It's best to invite more people than you plan to show up because 20 to 30 percent usually will not be able to make it. In addition, make sure that you try to invite many different personalities to create interest. There is no perfect time for a cocktail party; it's all up to you.
After the guest list is established, you have to decide on invitations. Invitations should reach guests two weeks before the cocktail party, so put this task at the top of your list. There are resources for cocktail party invitations. You have many other options, including making the invitations yourself, having a local printer design them, finding a cool card shop in your area, or asking a friend with graphic design skills to help out.
What Is Your Budget?
Lastly, you will have to determine your budget. This is a major guideline for the decisions you will have to make for the party. Knowing your budget gives you an idea of what's possible. So what's your budget? Do you have a sky-is-the-limit budget? I-can-afford-a-little-splurge budget? Or do you have champagne-taste-on-a-beer-bud-get budget? You'll find that it's a great help from the beginning to be honest and up front about the ching-ching.