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How to Throw an Impromptu Cocktail Party

Think it's impossible to pull together a last-minute cocktail party? Not with these 4 tips from Domestic CEO!

By
Amanda Thomas,
Episode #138

As the holidays approach, it's exciting to think about entertaining friends and family - but the thought of hosting a big gathering can be downright overwhelming. So my suggestion? Stop planning.

One of the best parties I ever went to was an impromptu cocktail party held on December 23rd. Yup, that's right - the day before Christmas Eve! We were invited just the day prior, and by that point in time, everyone was either ready for the holidays or so far behind they didn't care, so the temptation of a cocktail party was too good to pass up!  It was very fun, mainly because our hosts didn't sweat the small stuff. They didn’t have time to worry or obsess, and that ended up being the best thing.

Want to throw your own last minute get-together? Here are 4 secrets to hosting an incredible cocktail party:

Own the Basics

Make sure you already have a basic bar set-up on hand. Start with a good set of wine glasses and a set of all-purpose drink glasses, then add on specialty glasses, for drinks like margaritas and martinis, as needed. But starting with something to serve wine, beer, or mixed drinks in is important. If you want your party to be memorable, do not serve drinks in disposable plastic cups!.

A large serving tray or board is another handy kitchen accessory to own. I like to serve very simple and basic foods, so a tray is the perfect serving piece for party snacks, and a few good cheeses and some crackers are a snap to display on a wooden board. Make sure you own 1 or 2 good cheese knives, too, so guests can help themselves. Try serving a nutty cheddar, a warmed Brie, and a rich, buttery Havarti.

Beautiful small bowls filled with olives and nuts complete my food selections. Remember, you're not feeding a football team here! The object is for your guests to enjoy a drink and nosh on a few simple snacks. You might be thinking, "How about a bowl of potato chips or pizza rolls?" The point here is to keep it classy and memorable. Who really remembers a bowl of potato chips? (If you’re really concerned about food because most of your guy friends are former football players, ask everyone to bring a little something – either an appetizer or dessert. My friends are always down for bringing some party food.)

Finally, keep an ample supply of cocktail napkins handy. so guests can use them for both drinks and snacks. Personally, I like to find cocktail napkins that have a witty saying or something funny printed on them. Believe it or not, that little touch goes a long way towards making your party memorable.

Serve a Signature Drink

If you want the party to be memorable, choose one sophisticated cocktail that not only tastes delicious, but looks appealing, too.

When throwing any cocktail party, I like to keep the alcohol selections pretty simple. I'll offer one deep and delicious red, one crisp and refreshing white, and a signature cocktail. This is not the time to offer 12 different options of hard liquor for your friends: If you want the party to be memorable, choose one sophisticated cocktail that not only tastes delicious, but looks appealing, too.

Some of my favorites include a minty mojito, a refreshing margarita, a festive pomegranate martini, or a steamy hot chocolate spiced with Cinnabon vodka. Plan your cocktail based on the time of year you’re hosting your party. Mojitos and margaritas are delicious summer drinks, while a pomegranate martini or hot chocolate are perfect for a winter holiday party. Keep it simple and if you can, prepare a pitcher of drinks ahead of time. Remember that crystal pitcher you got for your wedding? Now is the time to use it.

Keeping the bar options simple provides one other important service: it keeps things easy for you, so you can enjoy the party, too.

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