Whether you’re entertaining clients or planning a cocktail party for a few friends, you’ll want to make it a memorable occasion. Here are five tips for easy, yet elegant entertaining.
1. Choose a signature cocktail.
Your party’s signature cocktail set the tone for the evening. Depending on the time of year and the impression you want to create, you might choose a fruit sangria, classic mojitos, or mulled spiked cider. Make sure you have plenty of drink-appropriate glassware, and a few non-alcoholic drink options as well. Consider enlisting a friend or hiring someone to serve as bartender for the evening. For a smaller soiree, you might make up a few pitchers of your signature drink in advance. People tend to congregate wherever the bar is set up, so position it in an area with ample space.
2. Get creative with your centerpiece.
Flowers or candles are obvious choices for your centerpiece, but you can also mix in other elements like fresh fruit or tree branches. Simple, clear glass containers filled with an assortment of whole citrus fruits (perhaps lemons and limes) create a fresh look for summer, while bare tree branches look stylish and sophisticated in the fall and winter months.
3. Perfect your presentation.
Although many hostesses focus on preparing food rather than presenting it, it’s often better to have simple foods elegantly plated as opposed to complicated ones that don’t show as well. There’s no shame in buying some prepared appetizers from that corner café down the street or hiring someone to cater your party. As long as you use nice serving ware and arrange it well, few guests will know the difference. Basic white platters can look chic and focus attention of the food. Or you can get fancy with beautiful patterns and color combinations to complement your party’s décor.
4. Welcome your guests.
It’s often uncomfortable for guests to show up while you’re still arranging canapés or mixing the pasta sauce. Try to do most of the prep work in advance so won’t feel rushed and you’ll be able to give guests your full attention. You may want to hire someone or enlist a friend to help in the kitchen so you can be a good hostess and greet people at the door. If you’re planning a winter party and people will be wearing heavy coats, it’s also a good idea to have a designated coat person to help at the door.
5. Get in the mood with the right music.
Create a party playlist in advance, but be sure it’s soft enough that people can hear each other. A mix of jazz musicians and vocalists is a good choice for most parties, but you can play with other genres depending on the mood you want to evoke. During the party, pay attention to the ambiance of the room, and be ready to skip songs if something feels too somber or too upbeat.
By making everyone feel comfortable and paying attention to detail, you’ll ensure that your guests go home with a good impression.
© 2010 Ali International, LLC
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