making it through the holidays: host a cocktail party

Cocktail parties are a great way to entertain because they accommodate any kind of guest list, ranging from neighbors to business associates. Regardless of what kind of crowd you're entertaining, however, there are a few basic guidelines to throwing a fabulous cocktail party...

Set the appropriate time.
The traditional time frame for a cocktail party is two to three hours in length held between 6 P.M. and 10 P.M., except, of course, New Year's Eve... hopefully, that party will run later.

Buy more than enough ice.
Remember that you're not just using it for drinks, but also for chilling bottles and cans. Generally, having 1 lb. of ice per guest should be adequate. Store the bags of ice in your washing machine for the evening.  The amount of ice will keep itself cold and once the party is over - easy cleanup!


Have a variety of glasses on hand, depending on the variety of drinks you plan to offer.
You should offer wine glasses for wines, juice and water; straight-sided highballs for tall drinks; tumblers for spirits and juices; and martini glasses. In terms of quantity, be ready with approximately twice as many glasses as you'll have guests. Glasses are readily available at a variety of discount stores and are usually very inexpensive... don't use your good crystal for a cocktail party.

Stock your bar.
For the wine drinkers, have one bottle for every two people, assuming five servings per bottle. For the beer drinkers, have one six-pack for every two people, assuming 12 oz. servings.

Get one or two liquors that can be made into a variety of cocktails (probably vodka, rum, gin, scotch, bourbon, blended whiskey, or tequila) Don't forget mixers and garnishes, including orange juice, soda, tonic, ginger ale, cola, grenadine, tomato juice, Tabasco, lemons, limes, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce. The most important mixer, however, is seltzer (club soda - if you must). Remember, KISS - with any party.... Keep It Simple, St*pid!  If the hostess and host are relaxed - the party will always be a huge success.

Prepare the menu.
Aim for variety (meat, vegetarian, hot, cold, spicy, and sweet). If you're not serving dinner, estimate 6 bites per person, but remember that it's better to have too much food than not enough. Once again, KISS (see above comment!)
Offer coffee to your guests towards the end of the party as a courtesy.
Remember that coffee does not help increase sobriety. Keep the number of a local taxi service handy for those guests lacking a designated driver.  

Here are some added suggestions to help you