It may come as a shock that the first cocktail party took place only a mere century ago. Held by the renowned St. Louis socialite Clara Bell Walsh in 1917, she pioneered the concept of a pre-dinner party that is devoted entirely to the consumption of mixed drinks over casual conversation. Since Mrs. Walsh’s groundbreaking innovation, cocktail parties have become one of the most popular events among Americans. In the current era of social distancing and small gatherings, hosting an intimate cocktail party, in lieu of a large event, brings friends and families together for some much-needed socializing. By following our list of guidelines and tips below, you will be well on your way to hosting your most successful cocktail party yet!

Stock Up on Supplies

The most important step on any cocktail party to-do list is to get the supplies. From essential ingredients like juices and liquor to key supplies like stemware and ice, there are limitless possibilities as to what you can get for your party. Just remember to get enough of any supplies you purchase for all of your guests—the last thing you want is to run out of drinks!

Key tips

  • Keep the 2:1 ratio in mind when figuring out how much glassware to have—that is, two glasses per guest at minimum.
  • If you are serving wine or champagne, plan on providing one bottle per every two guests for every two hours you plan on hosting. The math here can get a little confusing, but it is worth the effort in the end!
  • Do not forget the ice! Everyone has experienced that moment at a party or get-together when they run out of ice—it is not fun.

Provide Something to Munch On

This may seem like common sense, but it is easy to get caught up in the “drinks” side of a cocktail party. By offering a few snacks, you ensure that everyone balances out their alcohol consumption over the course of the night and it gives you the opportunity to let your creative side shine as you curate the menu for the night. Whether you decide to make something simple like finger sandwiches or opt for the bold undertaking of making multiple appetizers, you will be adding an essential piece to your cocktail party.

Key tips

  • Try and offer a diverse selection of foods, including a mix of both hot and cold foods.
  • When planning ahead, estimate that each guest will consume about six bites per hour of the gathering—remember, it is better to end up having more food than not enough.

Organize a Schedule

Whether it is a brief bullet point or two icebreakers or a full minute-by-minute itinerary, a schedule for the night can offer some structure to an otherwise abstract get-together. Consider blocking out some time for a casual card or phone game like Picolo, or—if you have the energy and time—construct a theme to organize the whole event around! The possibilities are endless, and the only limit is your imagination.

Lastly, consider offering to call an Uber for any partygoers that might be over the legal limit for driving themselves home. Having a back-up plan for your guests can be as easy as downloading the Uber or Lyft app on your phone or having the number to a local cab service handy. As the host, having an alternative for your guest’s ride home gives you peace of mind and keeps your guests safe after an epic night.

By adhering to the tips and steps above, you will have no problem hosting one of the best events of the winter! A little prior planning is all it takes to host a successful cocktail party.