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Dinner Event Planning
The Cocktail Hour
Dinner Party Planning
Dinner Menu Planning
Birthday Dinner Party
Getting Started Basics
Setting | Seating | Serving
Dinner Party Checklist
Dinner Party Themes
Dinner Party Etiquette
Dinner Shopping Lists
Guest List & Invites
The Cocktail Hour
Selecting the Music
Planning A Dinner Party: The Cocktail Hour
cocktail hour is essentially a
relaxed mini-cocktail party
. Like a cocktail party, you work in the background to keep things running smoothly and let your guests "drive".
Passing hors d'oeuvres
adds a sophisticated touch, but it is
for the dinner party cocktail hour. Dinner party hors d'oeuvres should be
. Do not serve anything that requires a plate until seated at the table.
All or most of the preparation and assembly should be
done before the first guest arrives
. Serve hors d'oeuvres about
30 minutes prior to serving dinner
Ideally, use a
silver tray with a paper doily
when passing hors d'oeuvres. Alternatively, you may use a flat, round tray of glass with a doily, but never use plates or chargers, which will push the snacks to the center.
theme-related tray centerpiece
, adds intrigue to the display and can be used as decoration elsewhere after all of the hors d'oeuvres have been served.
If you are
setting out an appetizer
for guests to serve themselves, choose a location that is
. Some alternatives to passing hors d'oeuvres would be a cheese ball with crackers or a bowl filled with peeled and deveined boiled shrimp.
Sitting is strongly discouraged
for two reasons: 1) to
, 2) for
, in preparation of
sitting for an extended period during dinner
Mingling and cocktails
will give all of your guests a chance to meet and
become more comfortable
before sitting down to dinner. It also gives you the opportunity to put all of the
last-minute dinner preparations
together while your guests arrive.
In selecting an
area for pre-dinner cocktails
, choose a location out-of-sight and
away from the decorated dining area
. If it is a
(6 or less), you can set-up an area on a
bar adjacent to the kitchen,
which will allow you to keep the party lively while you cook.
group of 8 or more
enough energy without your constant attention
, if you discourage sitting in the cocktail area. If necessary arrange, remove, cover, and/or decorate chairs and couches to
Be sure to
facing chairs and couches, so guests are
not tempted to sit
Remove low furniture
, such as coffee tables and foot stools.
at the pre-dinner cocktail party will naturally be the
center of activity
, so it is a good idea to serve drinks
deep into the designated cocktail area
. Like the cocktail party, a
crowded space is best
for the pre-dinner cocktail hour.
If you do not have a bar,
a work table ranging between counter and bar height
(36” to 42”) will do just fine. Otherwise, a table of standard height (28") is adequate.
If you would like to take the extra time to create a quick and easy bar see
Setting Up A Bar
in the Cocktail Party Planning section.
During a dinner party plan to serve, at least,
2 drinks per person during the cocktail hour, 2 drinks or glasses of wine during dinner, and 1 after dinner drink
The sound of ice tinkling is lovely, and nothing cheapens a party quicker than plastic glasses or paper plates, so
serve cocktails in glasses
, except when poolside.
The cocktail hour for a dinner party is an
ideal setting for serving martinis
. You should have as many martini glasses as guests, plus a couple extra.
It is also easy to
create a “special” martini
for the party theme or guest of honor by
mixing vodka and one or more liqueurs
, such as raspberry or sour apple. Learn more about making cocktails and martinis in
in Cocktail Party Planning.
Be sure to
use premium brand vodka and gin when serving martinis
. Because of the relatively small crowd, you may want to serve premium brands for all cocktails. Bourbon, rum, and scotch are good to have on hand as alternates to vodka and gin.
ask someone to assist
you with cocktails while you greet guests, serve hors d'oeuvres, and prepare dinner. You may also lighten the load by
preparing a pitcher of martinis or a “specialty” drink before
the guests arrive.
never put ice in your pre-made drinks
; pour over ice when serving. For martinis, pour over ice in a second pitcher, stir, then strain into a martini glass.
Find a list of drink suggestions in