Cocktail Party Planning Checklist

Date Posted: 17/09/2018 6:38:57 PM
Posted By: Roselen Fernandez

Everything You Need to Know to Organise Your Next Cocktail Event


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Somewhere between casual and formal, the cocktail party is the ideal event for a range of occasions and celebrations – corporate events, birthdays, celebrating a personal milestone, post-conference drinks, EOFY cocktail party, or just about any meet and greet event. If you’ve never hosted one before, planning a cocktail party can feel daunting.

We’ve created this checklist to help you get organised and host a fun and memorable evening. Here are the steps for planning a cocktail party from start to finish:

Create Your Guest List

Start by deciding on how large you would like your cocktail party to be and who you would like to attend. Create a guest list complete with contact information.

The Perfect Venue

Next, select the ideal location for your event. Your decision should be based upon the number of guests as well as the atmosphere and mood you would like to create. Some possible locations might include a large room in a pub, restaurant or club, an outdoor beer garden or a rooftop entertaining space, weather permitting. If your home is conducive, it can be the perfect spot to host a cocktail party. If you will be reserving an outside space, be sure to do so in plenty of time for the event.

Decide On a Theme

The event you are celebrating will help define the theme and the atmosphere you will be creating at the venue. Consider color schemes as well as décor, glassware, dishes and perhaps even a dress code related to the theme. Create a music playlist or consider hiring a deejay for the event. Order flowers and plan for the rental of any other required items for your theme.


Create a Drink and Hors d'oeuvres Menu


Now it’s time to decide on the drink menu as well as what canapes or finger food will be served. Do any of your guests have dietary requirements? Will you be creating a signature cocktail for the event? Be sure to offer appealing non-alcoholic options as well for guests who do not drink alcohol.

Send Out Invitations

Create and send out invitations to your guests two to three weeks ahead of the event. Reflect your chosen event theme in the invitation design. Consider sending both snail mail and e-invitations to ensure guests receive your correspondence and can easily RSVP.

Plan the Room Layout

How would you like the venue set up? Envision how guests will circulate around the room and where to place tables and serving areas. If the party will be held at your home, you’ll have plenty of time and opportunity to plan it. If you are renting a space, arrange a time to go there with a measuring tape and color swatches so you can get a feel for the setup and how you might decorate the space.

Make a Supplies List

If you will be hosting the party on your own at home, your list will be much longer than if you have assistance from the venue. Obviously, a party hosted at your home or in a rented space without catering will require supplies for all the cocktails and food items. You will also have to buy or rent decorations and related items; however, a rented venue may also allow you to use your own decorations. Check with the venue for specifics and any restrictions.

When entertaining at home, here is a possible list to get you started:

  • Liquor
  • Juices/mixers
  • Food items
  • Glassware
  • Dishes
  • Silverware
  • Bar supplies
  • Serving trays
  • Decorations

Consider Hiring a Bartender or Two

Why not leave drink service to the professionals? Experienced bartenders will delight your guests and allow you to relax and enjoy the evening as well.

Other Considerations

It’s all in the details. Will your party include a coat check? Designated smoking area? Reception area where guests are greeted and checked in? Consider lighting effects in the entertaining space and if you will be using candles (simulated candles can help ensure safety.) Double-check your shopping list to ensure you won’t forget any key details like garnishes for your specialty drinks and sauces or accents for your canapes or finger foods.


Don’t forget to have fun! 

Planning a cocktail party can be time consuming, but strive to enjoy the process as well as when your guests start to arrive. Having carefully planned every detail, you should be ready to relax, mingle and have a great time.

For an even more seamless event, consider leaving the planning and catering to an experienced professional. This checklist is a great starting point. However, if you need help along the way, Laissez-faire Catering can cater to all your event needs. Call us today! Tell us about your event and we'll give you a quote so we can get started creating a truly memorable event.