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Cocktail Event Planning
The Party Layout
Cocktail Party Planning
The Party Layout
Planning A Birthday Party
Get This Party Started
Lighting & Aroma
Disaster Planning TIps
Choosing A Theme
Cocktail Party Checklist
Setting Up A Bar
Party Shopping Lists
Hosting A Cocktail Party: Planning the Layout & Flow
has planned for everything, and the party layout is an
overview of the party area
movement of guests
Arrivals & Departures
Great parties take on a life of their own
, and a great party host
works in the background
to keep the party machine
running smoothly. The party area is the
you have to let your party live with the
least interference from you
closer your guests are to each other
the more energy they will generate, the more each guest will contribute to the party, and the
more fun everyone will have
by choosing a party area that is
just large enough
to hold your guests. For cocktail parties,
too tight is always better than too open
place items to create the right size area
. If necessary,
add plants and pull furniture into the room
. This gives you the flexibility to enlarge the space if it gets too crowded.
Just large enough to accommodate your guests
Use items to fill the room that can be pulled back or removed, if needed
Close doors to adjoining rooms
Cocktail parties thrive on mobile, mingling guests
, for this reason minimize all opportunities for guests to sit. Arrange, remove, cover, and/or decorate chairs and couches to
Be sure to rearrange facing chairs and couches, so guests are not tempted to sit and chat. The only
exceptions are bar height stools
Remove coffee tables and foot stools
. Not only are these
, your guests will find it
uncomfortable to sit down
with guests standing directly in front of them.
Unless a particular guest is helping you with food service,
keep everyone out of the kitchen
. A simple "out of my kitchen" usually does the trick.
Naturally, guests will want and try to be close to you, their host, so
minimize your time in the kitchen
, as well. Keep this in mind when establishing the location of cocktail service.
No TV or Computers
Remove, hide, or
disable all TV, video and computer distractions
unless it is part of the event, such as the Super Bowl or Kentucky Derby. This includes TVs and computers throughout the house.
will be the
nerve center of your party
, so consider the setup and location of cocktail service carefully. First, you want to
draw guests deeper into the party
area and secondly, you want guests to
move, mingle, and meet
every time they need a drink.
Setup the bar
opposite from where guests enter the room or
, if there are entry/exits on each end of the party area, set the bar up along the wall
in the center of the room
access behind the bar from one side only
to eliminate traffic on the service side of the bar.
Also, make sure there are places throughout the room where guests can
set down their cocktail glasses
. You may wish to
cover or set coasters
out to protect your furniture.
setting up the bar
Arrivals & Departures
A defined area
separate from the cocktail party
for the arrival and departure
of your guests. Ideally, this area is
out of site
from your party guests.
Gifts, Coats And the First Drink
Designate a place for gifts
and umbrellas near the entrance. For a party with a guest of honor,
separate the honorees gift
s and cards
from the hosts
designate a place for coats
, which may be in a separate room.
As the host, try to get or
facilitate each arriving guest’s first drink
. Offer your guests a cocktail, including your
signature drink of the evening
If someone is handling bartending duties,
order the guests’ cocktails
for them, otherwise,
make it yourself
. At this point, it is perfectly okay to tell them (with a smile) that you’ll get their first one, but after that they are on their own and help themselves.
place for gifts
Select an area to put
Get or arrange each
guest’s first drink
As a cocktail party guest,
it is acceptable to leave the party without saying goodbye
, especially if the host is occupied. Furthermore,
departing guests are a party downer
, and, if you do not announce that you’re leaving, no one really knows exactly when you left.
But, as a host,
if guests let you know
that they are leaving before the end of the party,
minimize the impact
on the rest of the party.
Excuse yourself, and
escort the guests out of the party area
to say your goodbyes. Other guests may become
self-conscious if they hear others leaving
and may feel they should exit too.
Conversely, if you are ready for the party to end, bid your adieu in sight and earshot of everyone else.
If your location or preferred entrance is not obvious,
to direct your guests’ arrival while
driving, parking, and/or walking
. Simply print out your signs on 8.5”x11” printer paper. If there is a possibility they could get wet, laminate your signs.
driving and parking
directional signs, make sure the words and graphics are
large enough to be read
. Purchase very inexpensive
from a home improvement store and staple the signs to the stakes.
If the general public can see the signs, you may wish to
use cryptic graphics
so you don’t get
. For example, use a large cactus and an arrow for a South of the Border party, don’t use a picture of a margarita glass or say “Party!” ("Liquor" and "Smoke" are also not advised)
For large parties, or
if you may not hear guests
at the door, put a sign that lets them know they are at
the right place
, such as “Welcome”, “Come out back” or “Please, no shoes” (if applicable) should do the trick.
If you have more than one bathroom, include a
sign on the main bathroom door directing guests to your other facilities
. This way the sign will be visible when the door is closed and guests can help themselves and get back to the party quicker.
Even non-smokers sometimes light up with a cocktail, so it is best to
designated smoking area
Avoid overhead lighting
, even in the smoking section, but make sure
walkways and steps are well lit
Choose an area to
minimize potential smoking damage
, for example,
away from hot tub and grill covers
create a pleasant atmosphere or place
in case your guests need a “light”.
Now that you know how your party will flow, the
is to determine the