Attending a cocktail party means that you'll likely give extra thought to what you'll wear, anticipate meeting interesting people, and drink cocktails. What it also means is that there probably won't be a lot of food served; it will either be passed appetizers or a table of finger foods. So, what this ultimately means, the high possibility that you might get sloshed. So, what's the etiquette for this fete?
The best way to avoid getting completely drunk is to eat before the party. You can have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you could eat a small meal, you could have a protein bar, but the point is putting something in your stomach before you get to the party. This way, you're not dependent on whatever is being served to soak up those drinks, or to fulfill your hunger, since cocktail parties are usually thrown just when you're ready to eat dinner, from 5:00 or 6:00 to about 8:00. The one thing you don't want is to wake in the morning, feeling awful.
If you do show up hungry, remember not to pile your plate with appetizers, or to hover over them. If you eat slowly, you will fill up- if you eat finger foods quickly, you'll stand out in the crowd as the person who hogged the food.
A cocktail party is not a night at the club, so keep the nightclub club-wear in the closet. It's also not a business meeting, although discussing business is likely. It's also not the place for jeans, although there are exceptions to that rule. What to wear to a cocktail party? Women should keep in mind to not wear anything too revealing and for men to leave the worn-out jeans for a different party. But definitely dress for the occasion.
Finally, and most importantly, remember to bring your business cards so that you can stay in touch with the people you meet.