3 Entertaining Tips for a Simple & Stylish Cocktail Party

Cocktail Party Set up

Simple laid-back style imbues any event with a delightful elegance. Whether that means just-harvested lemon thyme garnishing a gin & tonic served over Sonic ice or quickly made fresh rosemary popcorn, these simple entertaining tips (and good friends) can make a cocktail party equally elegant and casual — impressive with a stress-free setup. Time to sit back, relax, and toast the season.

I’m sure it’s no secret that when I set the bar for a party, it’s always with lots of white dishes, interesting glassware, and an abundance of fresh herbs. After all, my love for clean lines and aromatic flavors is well documented! But I’m the first to admit that rules are made to be broken and lots of things give your cocktail party memorable warmth and personality. So the first and ultimate rule of entertaining is this: bring yourself to the party (literally and decoratively). Choose what you like, and your guests will love it too.

It’s true — the idea of entertaining can be overwhelming, but if you focus on these few elements and a great guest list, everything else falls into place. Here are three entertaining tips that will make your cocktail parties fun, relaxed, and absolutely entertaining.

1. Design around a central idea.

entertaining tips for cocktail party

Pick a theme! It gives a lovely structure to your gathering and can create a great balance of flavors, atmosphere, and decor. Whether your central idea is a ‘rustic, debonair bar’ where whiskey is the primary alcohol, a ‘glamorous gin & tonic party’ where you serve only unique variations on the classic gin & tonic, or a ‘summery outdoor soiree’ with green galore, choose something that you enjoy and then tie all details back to this theme. Planning around one central idea makes pulling everything else easier!

2. Splurge on ice and glassware.

Party Refreshments

One huge element I consider when entertaining is the cocktail glasses themselves. Don’t underestimate the power of presentation — often I think it’s just as important as what’s inside. I like to match glassware to cocktail flavors or my central idea.

My ultimate pro entertaining tip is to have crushed ice at the ready! Trust me, it’s an absolute treat for guests and it makes your life as a host/hostess much easier.

3. Bring in touches of the garden.

Having green in any space contributes to a warm, inviting atmosphere. Bringing touches of the garden to your cocktail event (whether or not it’s hosted outdoors) really can transform your experience. So bring the outdoors in if you need! My fresh herbs are just as at home in an elegant setting or kitchen as they are on my patio.

cocktail party entertaining tips

Then, set up various cocktail and food stations inviting guests to serve themselves. I always make one signature cocktail that’s ready to pour when friends arrive for a low stress, high fun event.

I love sharing food and fun with friends around a full kitchen island bustling with chatter, laughter and the clink of cocktail glasses. To me, those are the sounds of the season — the moments spent with friends remembering all of our abundant blessings.

Check out the original edition of this article (page 149) in Modern Luxury Magazine here!

Cocktail Garden