You want the cocktail party you host this holiday season to be memorable for guests and enjoyable for you too. A cocktail party is usually a lot easier to put together than a full dinner party, since you're mainly serving beverages and small snacks. When hosting a cocktail party, it's important that you plan well enough that you don't run out of food or drink. You also don't want to be stuck in the kitchen, whipping up snacks in the middle of party.
A memorable cocktail party will have memorable drinks. Don't feel as though you need to supply a fully stocked bar for your guests. If you want to serve actual cocktails, choose a drink or two and prepare a few large pitchers worth in advance. Another option is to have the basics, such as vodka, gin, and whiskey as well as a few mixers for guests to mix their own simple cocktails.
You can also choose a theme and stick with it. For example, serve Champagne or sparkling wine based drinks at your party. Sparkling wine is festive, so it will fit right in. Another option is to hold a martini party for the holidays. Have gin, vodka, vermouth and olives at the ready, and prepare martinis based on guest's preferences.
You'll also want to have non-alcoholic selections available for designated drivers or people who avoid alcohol. Water's a great choice, as is a signature, fun, alcohol-free drink such as a fruit punch or iced tea.
The food at your cocktail party should fit in with a holiday theme. A plate full of Christmas cookies will work well as a sweet snack. Think of winter vegetables when planning savory snacks. Fritters made from root vegetables or onions work well for the holidays as do snacks made from cheese.
Variety will set your party apart from the others during the holiday season. Offer a snack with meat, such as a chicken satay or beef skewers. Crostini topped with caramelized onions will please vegetarians, as will a platter of hummus and pita. Make the hummus stand-out by adding unconventional flavors to it. Try a smoky hot pepper hummus or an edamame hummus. Trade in the traditional chickpeas for black beans or white beans.
Offer food in a manner that makes sense. For example, start the party off with lighter fare, such as hummus or other dips, then bring out heavier snacks such as skewers or anything with cheese. Towards the end of the event, bring out the sweets.
If you decorate for the holidays, your home decorations can serve as decor for your cocktail party. Don't forget to dress up the serving areas in a festive way, too. Drape holiday colored tablecloths over a dining table or bar. Bring out your holiday dinnerware and glasses, if you have them.
Set the mood for the party by using strings of holiday lights or candlelight instead of bright, overhead lighting. Set taper candles around the buffet table or near the bar area. Dress up a boring table or floor lamp with a holiday printed shade.