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Spring cocktail party ideas & tips

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Liquor is arguably one of the biggest expenses involved in hosting a cocktail party. It doesn't have to be that way, though. (©iStockphoto.com) Liquor is arguably one of the biggest expenses involved in hosting a cocktail party. It doesn't have to be that way, though. (©iStockphoto.com)


By Sara Elliot

Spring cocktail parties are the perfect way to welcome the new season, enjoy the warming weather and take advantage of the newly blooming landscape. By developing a strategy for your party and planning ahead, you too can actually relax and enjoy your cocktail party rather than stressing over where the napkins went and who needs a refill.

Spring Cocktail Party Planning Ideas

Strategizing is what you do before you do anything else. It consists of outlining the scope of the cocktail party, coming up with a workable budget and choosing the elements you want to showcase -- and those you might want to downplay. If this is a business cocktail party or just for your close friends, then you'll have a guest list in mind, and that will tell you things like how much space you'll need. It will also give you some hints about the food you may want to serve and the duration of the party, too. Grab a binder or one of those nifty party planning software packages and start brainstorming.

Spring Cocktail Party Location Ideas

Cocktail parties are more about the mix of people involved than they are about location, but there are still some important location related details you should consider:

Parking -- If the spring cocktail party is in a residential area and parking may be a problem, scope out solutions (like using the school parking lot down the street -- with permission), and make sure to include a list of options on the invitation. Guests will feel more at ease if they didn't spend 30 minutes trying to find a place to leave their car.

The ins and outs -- Evaluate the space in your home, keeping traffic flow in mind. Guests will enter and should have a clear path to important areas like the drinks table, buffet (if there is one), coat room and bathrooms. If there's furniture in the way, move it. You should also consider putting away precious display items that may take a tumble if guests handle or bump into them.

The layout -- If your spring cocktail party will involve guests from differing backgrounds, like your work buddies and a few of your neighbors, consider annexing two major conversation areas, each with a snacks area. That way your hubby's golf buddies can congregate in the man cave while your Tuesday knitting klatch will free to chat about stitches in another spot.

Spring Cocktail Party Ideas For Decor

Because it's spring, you have a built in decorating theme that will make pulling together a party much easier. Potted spring flowers are relatively inexpensive and make a bright pop of color on tables and the kitchen countertop. Displaying food items in wicker baskets is in keeping with the theme and relatively inexpensive, too. Opt for pastel colors in napkins, tablecloths and the like, and repeat a couple of these classic spring elements in your decor: eggs, baskets, spring flowers, nests, fruits, birds, small animals and trees in bud. Open the drapes, too. Nothing says spring like a light airy atmosphere. For spring centerpiece ideas, see DIY Spring Centerpiece Ideas.

Spring Cocktail Party Drink Ideas

Liquor is arguably one of the biggest expenses involved in hosting a cocktail party. It doesn't have to be that way, though. Keep a basic assortment of medium quality spirits on hand and let your guests know what you'll be stocking. Most people have strong preferences when it comes to alcohol, so invite guests to bring their own brands if they prefer. That way you can stay in your budget and your guests will still be well served. You should also consider serving a couple of blended punch drinks. Fruity punches can be refreshing and festive for a spring cocktail party. They also look very inviting in a cut glass or crystal punch bowl.

Spring Cocktail Party Food Ideas

Serving cocktail party snacks is a good idea. It makes people feel welcome and slows down liquor consumption. Limit offerings to foods that are portable and easy to eat in a bite or two. Cocktail parties are about schmoozing and chatting, so make it easy for people to walk and talk without dropping or otherwise having mishaps with food. There are hundreds of potential foods to choose from, but if you're the server as well as the host, select foods you can prepare ahead and serve cold or microwave quickly. Your main job is to keep the party upbeat and energetic, so don't spend all your time in the kitchen.

Extra Spring Cocktail Party Ideas

You may want to consider these other spring cocktail party planning tips as well:

Send out invitations -- Even if you're having a casual gathering, it pays to send out a formal notice by way of an invitation. It will furnish guests with important information, like the address and time of the party, and offer an efficient way for you to give folks directions to the location via an easy to follow map. It will also provide you with a tactful way to set the duration of the party -- say, three hours -- and limit participation to adults only. (That's a tactful way of suggesting guests arrange for a babysitter and leave the kids at home.)

Play music -- Nothing signals a failed cocktail party like silence. Have tasteful music playing in the background throughout the party. Keep the music low, though. It will add ambience and promote the muted conversational buzz cocktail parties are famous for. It will help keep individual conversations more private, too.

Dim the lights -- If you have hangers on who just don't know when the party is over, try turning off the music and flickering the lights. It a classic signal that the party is coming to an end.

Be a borrower - If you are having trouble assembling all the glassware and accessories you need, ask around. You're not the first person to have a cocktail party. Chances are you have friends and relatives who will loan you some of the essentials. If you want to include an expensive item, like a crystal punchbowl, that you can't really afford to buy right now, you may even be able to share the expense and make the pricey piece a communal utensil or gadget. Most folks only entertain occasionally, so sharing ownership with family members or friends can be an inspired solution.

You can keep the costs and potential hassles involved in putting together a spring cocktail party under control if you have a strategy. Adopting a strategy can mean the difference between playing catch up through the process and making your party planning fun and focused. It can also save you time and keep your stress level down.

This article was originally posted on IdealHomeGarden.com

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