Cocktail parties have become increasingly more popular recently and it’s easy to see why.
A cocktail party can be adapted to suit a range of occasions. They’re perfect for formal events such as business parties or networking events for professionals. They are also great for charity events and can be really successful fundraisers for a range of causes. But cocktail parties are also a great way to spend time with friends and family and can be made to suit large parties or smaller gatherings.
Whatever reason you have for hosting your cocktail party, you’ll need to make sure you plan it properly to make sure it’s a successful event.
We’ll answer some of the most common cocktail party planning questions here, but if you want the ultimate cocktail party guide, then we’ve dedicated a post to everything you need to know to plan a cocktail party. It doesn’t matter what size group you’re hosting for, or if you’ve got a limited budget, we’ve got the answers.
How Long Should a Cocktail Party Last?
We think the best cocktail parties last between 2-3 hours, but exactly how long your cocktail party should last depends on a few factors.
What is the occasion?
If you’re hosting a more casual cocktail party with close friends and family at home, then your event will probably last around 3-4 hours. This is because you’ll need plenty of time to catch-up and relax, and you won’t be on a strict time schedule.
Formal or corporate cocktail parties tend to be a bit shorter than casual gatherings. This is because there is often a more precise reason for hosting. Is it a networking event, or a way to make an important announcement. If this is the case, they it’s likely to be a more structured event so won’t usually take as long. Formal cocktail parties usually work best when they last around 2 hours.
Where are you hosting?
If you’re hosting a cocktail party at home, then you won’t have any time restrictions on how long it can last. However, if you’re booking a venue, you’ll only have it for a set time.
However, if you’re hosting your cocktail party at a venue and want to keep the cost down, the best thing to do is to book a shorter time period. Granted, usually the longer you book a venue for, the more cost-effective it will be. But how much of a benefit will hiring a venue out for an extra hour actually be? Consider the cost of your venue when deciding how long your cocktail party will last.
Cocktail parties can be quite varied in terms of the activities involved. If you’re cocktail party food will simply involve some canapes, then you won’t have to consider it when figuring out how long your cocktail party is likely to last. But if you’re going for a sit-down meal, this will add a huge chunk of time to the overall time length of the party.
Same goes with entertainment. Some cocktail parties won’t involve any entertainment, games and activities, and that’s totally fine. But others may have live acts performing or even just involve casual games, so figure out how long all the events will last.
What is the Best Day for a Cocktail Party?
The best day for a cocktail party is usually Saturday. We think that this is ideal because your guests won’t have to worry about getting up early the next day so won’t be rushing off before the event is over. It’s also a good day because most people work Monday-Friday, so hosting on a Saturday means that they won’t have to rush home from work to get ready in time.
Friday is the next best day for a cocktail party, as it’s the start of the weekend but has the negative of it still being a working day so you might lose some guests if they’re too exhausted at the end of the working week to come.
You will have to consider your venue when deciding what day to host your cocktail party though. If you’re planning it at the last minute, then it’s possible that your ideal venue might be booked up on a Friday and Saturday evening. In which case you may have to host it on a weekday. This is okay, as long as you don’t host it too late in the evening and aim to wrap it up by 9:00PM at the latest. This brings us to the question, what time should a cocktail party start?
What Time Should a Cocktail Party Start?
Cocktail parties work best when they last between 2-3 hours usually, although the exact amount of time will depend on the factors we discussed earlier.
Usually, a cocktail party is more suited to the evening than it is to the afternoon or night time. This is why we think that the best time to start a cocktail party is between 6:00-7:00 PM.
If you’re hosting on a Saturday, go for the earlier 6:00PM start time. It means your party won’t go on too late, so your guests can still have the majority of the night left.
But if you’re hosting on a Sunday or a weeknight, go for a 7:00PM start time. This will give your guests chance to get ready after work but is not too late that they’ll be worrying about having to get back because they might be up early the next day.
Cocktail Party Program
The best way to stay organised and make sure your cocktail party runs smoothly, is to decide the order of events well in advance of the day of the party. Of course, the exact order of events will depend on what the occasion is, what activities you have planned and how long your cocktail party is expected to last. Here’s a few examples of the best cocktail party programs to help you decide on your order of events.
Formal Cocktail Party Program
- 0:00-0:30 Welcome Drinks
- 0:30-1:00 Food and Networking
- 1:00-1:20 Speeches and Toasts
- 1:20-2:00 Entertainment and Networking
Casual Cocktail Party Program
- 0:00-0:30 Welcome Drinks
- 0:30-1:00 Food
- 1:00-3:00 Drinks and Games
Cocktail Party Hosting Tips
If you want to make your cocktail party a success, you’ll need to do your part as a host. We’ve put together these cocktail party hosting tips so your event runs smoothly.
- Stock up on high quality ice. Don’t go for cheap supermarket bags, but instead boil and freeze some water in ice cube moulds for clear crisp ice.
- Always use fresh ingredients. That means fresh and not frozen fruit, and lemon and lime juice should only be squeezed just before you actually need it and not ahead of the party.
- Have a good mix of drinks but don’t make your menu too complicated. Instead choose 3-4 drinks, each with a different base spirit.
- Pay attention to the glassware and pick the right type of glass for each cocktail instead of using a single glass shape for every drink
- Make sure you have 3x as many glasses as you have guests so you never run out.
- Have some relaxed background music to set the tone and create the perfect cocktail party mood.
So now you know the best day, start time and length for a cocktail party, you’re ready to start planning!
We’ve put together the ultimate cocktail party guide to help you make your night a roaring success. It’ll take you through everything you need to organise, drink recipes, cocktail party food ideas, themes, games, entertainment, invitations and more!