how to plan a cocktail party

Top ten tips of organising a cocktail party

Choose your venue

Obviously! However where you choose to do host your event will matter as well. Always keep your objectives in mind as well as the size of the venue and its facilities. Make a note of these and assess whether the venue meets those.

Parking and transport

If your venue is hard to get to and there’s nowhere to park then you’re going to have some very annoyed people turning up (if they turn up at all…) So heed my warning when it comes to parking and transport. Have taxi numbers ready and know the nearest public transport routes: I guarantee your guests will ask.

Negotiate a price

Once you have a venue and you’re happy with the parking/transport situation then it’ll be time to negotiate a price. If you want to save money then book your event during an off season and during a week day. Be clever about it though, because the date is everything and it will determine the cost and it may effect if people turn up to your event or not.

Use an online RSVP system

Take the stress out of snail mail RSVP’s and do everything through Eventbrite. It’s easy to keep an account of who is turning up to your event and what numbers you should be planning for. Plus it comes with several different tools such as real-time analytics to your event, promotional tools and page customisation.


You may choose not to have one but we always find that a theme works very well for events. Even if customers don’t get dressed up in costumes themselves doesn’t mean effort can’t be made with the surroundings. Yes it’ll add to the overall cost but it really depends on what theme you choose and how far you go with the decorations.

Food portions

Are you serving food buffet style? Or are you going to serve canapés/nibbles? The way you decide is pretty easy. If you want people to stay for a few solid hours then serve food, however if you’re happy for people to go in and out as they please then canapés are probably a better choice.


Do you want people dancing? Do you want people to network or chat? Decide beforehand so you can pick the music. Loud music = bad for conversation.  Dance music = bad for concentration. I’, sure you knew that already and if you didn’t then I’m sure you get the general idea now.


Personally, I always think it’s best to provide at least some seating for your guests. Because there’s nothing worse than standing up at an event all night (especially if you’re in heels!) Additionally make sure the venue isn’t’ saturated with seating, so much so that guests can’t walk around comfortably.

Coat room

If you live somewhere cold and want to minimise coat theft and clutter in general, try and supply your guests with a coat room facility.


Do you plan to have any entertainment during the event? Magicians? Palm readers? Jugglers? Fire breathers!? (O.K. maybe not fire breathers…)  The point is don’t book something that will require people to stare at a stage for long portions of time. It’s a cocktail party and the aim of the game is civilised mingling with other guests!


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