Five tips for throwing the perfect cocktail party

Plus, how to be a great host.

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NYE champagne glasses

‘Tis the season, and whether you’re throwing a festive and intimate dinner party or a big bash for New Year’s Eve, be sure to pull it off in style and with success. We consulted etiquette expert, Karen Cleveland who shared her best tips for throwing the best cocktail party, plus how to be a great guest, too. Cheers!

How to throw the perfect cocktail party:

1. Invitation – Whether you choose paper or virtual, invitations set the tone and should match the occasion. A phone call or evites are great, and if it ‘s something more formal with a dress code, then opt for mailing an invitation.

2. Atmosphere – As the host it’s your job to set the mood, so start with a good attitude and a smile and it will become contagious. Enlist a friend to come early to be your wingwoman to help with any any prep and to be your first guest.

3. Décor – This is the time of year to have fun and pull out the kitch, so cover everything in tinsel (if you like) or go all white for a more refined, festive without being overdone look. Décor helps set the tone, so don’t underestimate these little touches.

4. Music – Build a playlist that moves throughout the night from chill to upbeat.

5. Drink – Pre-pour trays of wine so you can easily pass them out to guests as they arrive. Choose a boxed wine, such as a Jackson Triggs cask – it’s far better on the environment and the wallet. Plus, it’s more efficient so there’s no fussing with opening cored bottles, and you don’t need to worry about matching the correct wine with what your guest was drinking. Make bigger batches of fewer things that are easy to replicate and to top off easily.

How to be a great guest

1. Show up on time which means a few minutes late. Every host hopes to be ready to greet guests but give them a grace period to put on lipstick.

2. Bring a bottle of wine of goodie. Don’t be upset if they don’t pour your wine, pairing might not fit. Anything consumed might not fit with menu.

3. If your plans change, alert the host immediately. For example, if you want to bring someone else along, clear it with her first, ask politely and don’t be presumptuous.

4. Know when to make your exit gracefully. Pay attention to when others leave, when the music has been turned down, and tea served.

5. The next day, follow up with a formal or informal thank you. No host would be disappointed to get a note in the mail. It’s the holidays, so go ahead and use pretty stationary.