Cocktail parties are becoming increasingly popular, especially during the Christmas festive season. Often cocktail parties are chosen for being more economical and for functions that want a more social and informal vibe. Here’s our checklist to help you plan for the perfect cocktail party.
Choose a theme or dress code
It doesn’t have to be fancy or over the top, but providing your guests with a dress code will avoid any confusion or awkward situations on the night. Your theme can be as simple as a colour, a style, i.e. Spring or Christmas, or even stating “Cocktail” is enough of a theme itself!
Confirm any dietary requirements for the menu
Make sure your guests let you know of any dietary requirements before you order your food and catering. It’s also a good idea if possible, to let your waitstaff know who has special dietary needs on the night. This will help them to be able to ensure they get served the food that has been prepared. Even though you may be planning a variety of food and assume that most people’s taste or preferences are covered, it’s always safer to add this request to your RSVP and work with a real number.
Consider how the food and drinks will be served
Consider whether you will hire waitstaff to serve your guests for the evening, or perhaps you will have a combination of wait staff and service areas, i.e. a bar. The size of your event will be the biggest determination factor of how you choose to service, however with whichever option you choose, there are some added considerations.
- If you’re the host and serving food – will you still be able to enjoy yourself?
Whilst it might be in your nature to want to be the planner of everything, this is a big thing to consider. There are many mobile staff companies now that offer waitstaff for 2 to 3 hour events in private homes – which makes it a much more relaxed and enjoyable event for the host.
- Even with wait staff, you’ll probably need a bar service area
Most wait staff serve a drink on arrival, then spend the evening roaming to top-up people’s glasses and offer food. A bar service area is the easiest way to avoid your guests chasing waitstaff around. Once most guests have arrived, it’s also not as easy for staff to be juggling trays full of liquid around a room!
- Make sure you have a run sheet for the catering
Think of your cocktail event still to be like serving a meal, just in smaller portion sizes over a period of time. Usually you will still start with the entrees and appetisers, and work your way onto the mains. If you’re serving heated food, make sure to allow time for cooking or reheating in your schedule.
Have a run-sheet on the night
Having a run-sheet on the night will make everything much smoother and help you to keep track of how the evening/event progresses. Even if you have some leeway and flexibility built into these times, or allow for a few things to be shuffled around on the day, it’s much easier to do this if you have a list to refer to.
Even though it’s a stand-up event, you’ll still need to hire tables and chairs
Whether your event is two hours, three hours or all evening – you can’t expect your guests to remain standing the entire time. Just because your guests aren’t going to be having a formal sit down meal, there are plenty of other options to have tables and chairs available. Free standing cocktail bars with stools is a popular option, as is having a lower lounge area with ottomans or benches. If your event is outside and its good weather, deck chairs are a fun option.