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Party Ideas – How to Host Great Cocktail Parties

Simple Tips on Making Cocktails, Frosting Glass Rims & Finger Foods

Cocktail parties are simple with the organization & the right equipment. These tips for making cocktails, frosting rims of glasses and buffet finger foods give great parties.

Holding a cocktail party is not only a fantastic way to entertain groups of friends, family or business acquaintances but it is also a versatile social occasion. Cocktail parties can be held at any time of day from mid or late morning to afternoon, before dinner, or, indeed, at any time in the evening. It has to be said, therefore, that hosting a cocktail party can be social drinking at its finest.

Simple Organisation & Tips for a Great Cocktail Party

For guests, part of the fun of a successful cocktail party is watching a drink being made; however, for the sole host, this can be a little time-consuming. Unless a number of professional bartenders have been hired for the occasion, it is sometimes easier to limit the types of cocktails being served.

An ideal accompaniment to any cocktail party is to provide a number of punch type drinks as well, such as large bowls of Sangria or Champagne Punch. This way guests can help themselves to drinks or wait for handmade cocktails.

Equipment for Making Cocktails

Ideally at least one cocktail shaker will be needed as fruit juices and cordials mix far better with spirits when shaken. The cocktail shaker also strains the drink as it is poured into the glass.

Drinks measures for cocktails are also useful to ensure the correct proportions for drinks, however standard measuring jugs can be used.

Crushed ice is a vital ingredient of most cocktails, and this is easily prepared beforehand by crushing ice cubes in a blender or putting ice into plastic bags and hammering with a rolling pin.

Consider also fruits and embellishments for the cocktails: paper cocktail umbrellas, slices of exotic pineapple, even slices of lemon, lime and orange will enhance the appearance of each drink significantly.

Frosting the Rim of a Glass for Professional Cocktails

Cocktails have a professional appearance when served in a frosted glass. Frosting the rim of the glasses is not difficult. Initially, dip glass rims into iced water or lemon juice and then into caster sugar, and turn the glass to give an even coat of sugar.

Buffet Foods and Snacks

Finger foods are ideal snacks for the buffet for a successful cocktail party and should all be bite-sized. As guests will probably be standing, they will be more comfortable if they can take foods from the serving platters and eat them in one bite.

Choose a variety of foods with different appearance, color, flavor, and texture and ensure that dishes can be prepared in advance.

Canapes are ideal foods for cocktail parties, although it’s necessary to give thought to toppings. Moist toppings will make the canape base soggy if prepared too early.

Bowls of peanuts, cashews, salted almonds, olives, and other pickles are a great staple snack for parties which can be left anywhere in the room for guests to help themselves. Pistachios are a little more problematic as they can be messy.

Cocktail sausages are another staple party snack which can be served hot or cold, speared on cocktail sticks.

Colorful vegetables are also fantastic finger foods. Celery, cucumber, and carrots can be cut into small sticks and served with different dips, whilst lightly fried mushroom caps and tomato halves are fantastic with tasty fillings.

Organizing a Successful Cocktail Party

Organizing a successful cocktail party is really not difficult, following some of these tips. Furthermore, as cocktails are acceptable drinks at almost any time of day, cocktail parties are a truly versatile way to celebrate any occasion.

 

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How to Throw a Cheap, Chic Dinner Party

How to Throw a Cheap, Chic Dinner PartyIt’s a myth that entertaining costs lots of money – with a little creativity, a dinner party for eight doesn’t have to cost so much.

It’s always fun to host a dinner party until it starts to crunch your wallet. But dinner parties needn’t be canceled in lean times; instead, focus on high-value, low-cost items to make your party shine just as much as ever without costing a pretty penny.

It’s All in the Details

Instead of buying candles and flowers for a centerpiece, think a little closer to home. A bowl of found objects from around the house, like ornaments or trinkets, can make a very interesting centerpiece that sparks conversation. Instead of candlelight, dim the lights around the table for a similar effect. If it’s candlelight you’re after, though, try grouping together an eclectic mix of candles you already have, or for a more uniform effect, buy cheap tealights and set them at different levels in the middle of the table.

fancy table setting

Using your fanciest dishes makes the party feel elegant and special, even if it doesn’t cost you anything more than using your everyday dishes. Set full place settings with two forks and two glasses at each place (one for wine, one for water) and it’ll feel like high tea at a fancy restaurant.

Focus on Good Food

goat cheeseInstead of serving an appetizer spread, it’s important as a frugal entertainer to stick to one thing and do it well. Try a goat cheese or cream cheese appetizer, and try to mix simple flavors that will complement each other.

For dinner, stick to simple ingredients but work on your culinary prowess by preparing it in an impressive way. Chicken Kiev, for instance, or flank steak with an elaborate marinade. By sticking to quality, but low-cost, ingredients, you’ll please your guests, and by cooking it in an out-of-the-ordinary way, you’ll impress them, too. Serve a modest-size main dish and make more than enough side dishes (a vegetable and a starch, preferably) so that the extra-hungry guests in your group have something else to munch on when it’s time for seconds.

When it comes to drinks, stick to affordable beverages so you can get a few kinds to satisfy everyone’s tastes without breaking the bank.

Add Low-Cost Fun

fun party gamesInstead of making the entire night focused on food, switch gears halfway through the night and introduce a fun activity that all your guests can participate in. That way, you don’t have to keep serving food and drinks for your guests to stick around into the wee hours. Try a game night, a regular poker dinner party or a movie on your own TV. A game of horseshoes in the backyard is fun, too, if it’s warm enough outside to play.

The bottom line is, friends gathering is always fun if there’s joy and fun happening. The rest is just details, so why spend so much on it?

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How to Find a High School Prom Venue

How to Find a High School Prom Venue

Planning a high school prom dance can be exciting for students, parents, and teachers, but can also be a source of stress. There are a lot of things to keep track of: where the event will be held, decorations, music, refreshments, photographers. Here is a planning guide to assist the prom planning committee in locating the perfect prom venue.

Prom Basics

How to Find a High School Prom Venue - Event Date

Before finding a venue, there are a few important details that need to be taken care of ahead of time.
Date of event. Look at a school district master calendar to see which weekend will conflict with the fewest extracurricular events. This date will be what the rest of the planning guide is based around.
Budget for event. Talk with a school administrator to make sure that everyone knows exactly how much is available to spend. If a fundraiser is necessary, assign one or two members of the planning committee to organize a prom fundraiser to help offset the various costs. Having and keeping to a strict budget will assist in negotiating with vendors.

Finding a Prom Venue

How to Find a High School Prom Venue - prom locations

 

The earlier a venue is booked for a large-scale event like a high school prom, the better. Reserve a space no later than 20 weeks prior to the event date.

To narrow down venue options, talk with administrators or past prom committee members to see what people have done in previous years. Some schools may not want formal events held at hotels or far away, so be sure to check with administrators for any off-limits locations. Look online or in the phone book for nearby museums, convention centers, galleries, hotels, even public libraries and university spaces to get a feel for the selection.

Some things to look for in a prom venue:

• Is there a clear front entrance where guests can check coats, submit tickets, etc?
• Is there an area that can be separated off for photographs?
• Will the venue facilitators set up the space, or is that something the prom committee will have to do?
• Are there cleaning supplies available for post-dance cleanup?
• Is there an area for on-site dining, or will guests need to book restaurant reservations elsewhere?
• What kind of decorating options are available: can anything go on the walls? What have people done in the past for formal events?
Give some thought to questions and come in to any venue tour with a checklist.

When it comes to price, bring someone along who can help negotiate. If the committee decides to hold the event at the same location as previous years, the venue may be willing to strike a deal, especially if things have gone smoothly before. Keep extra expenses (AV equipment rental, on-site refreshments) to a minimum or ask for a discount on these items.

The most important thing is to visit any potential prom site in person: do not book any space sight unseen and without talking over the contract with the venue facilitator. Get any discounts or additional agreements in writing and ask the site manager to sign it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from committee members, parents, and school staff members.

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7 Principles of Perfect Reception Seating

7 Principles of Perfect Reception Seating

Assigning seats at the wedding reception is considerably more daunting than merely writing names on place cards. Insuring a pleasant experience for every guest requires forethought.

7 Principles of Perfect Reception Seating - seating arrangementsWedding Receptions and Seating Arrangements

Assigned reception seating is always beneficial. It automatically relieves stress for attendees, and when asked, the majority of wedding guests will answer that they prefer assigned seats. Few people enjoy approaching an occupied table to ask if they can join the already-seated guests, and “free” seating can result in unnecessary discomfort for some and alienation for others.

Taking the time to thoughtfully assign seats may add to the bride and groom’s pre-wedding tasks, but in the long run, doing so will increase the enjoyment of the day for everyone.

Etiquette Seating Follows 7 Principles

7 Principles of Perfect Reception Seating - etiquette seating

Following 7 basic principles when assigning seats for the wedding reception will make the process less confusing and result in tables blessed with harmonious conversation and a pleasurable atmosphere.

  1. The Two Peas in a Pod Principle: Knowing that two or more people absolutely belong together makes those guests easy to assign. Keeping couples, families, co-workers, etc., together is a plus. Those who share commonalities will converse more freely and be more at ease.
  2. The Dodge Ball Principle: Age is a factor. Seating an elderly person at a table with young children can be stressful for all. Even children on their best behavior can be loud and fidgety. Sheltering elderly guests from those who are young enough to relish a rambunctious game of dodge ball saves frustration for all guests, young and old.
  3. The Solitary Confinement Principle: Inclusion is a must. Solo guests are especially vulnerable in reception situations. It’s difficult to attend social functions alone, making it even more important that guests without partners be integrated into friendly table assignments. What they don’t want is to be lumped together at some “after thought” table for singles. The best solution is to make sure that every table has a seat or two assigned to single guests. For example, a table of eight could include a family of five, a couple and a single guest, and all would find that to be a welcome arrangement.
  4. The Potential Drama Principle: Deciding where to place those who used to be a couple can be challenging. Divorced men and women who no longer speak to each other should be seated apart. Some separated couples remain friendly while others do not. But even if they are amicable, it’s wise to remember that a wedding, of all places, can trigger some painful memories for those who have had their marriages or relationships fail. Unless asked specifically by a former couple to be seated together, each needs to be assigned to a different table in a different section of the room. It does no good to assign seats with such close proximity that they can overhear each other’s conversations. Keeping former couples apart can limit unwelcome wedding day drama.
  5. The Comfort Zone Principle: Guests with special needs require special consideration during the seating process. Common sense should take the lead when addressing those with wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, or other unique issues. Seating the elderly closest to the restrooms makes sense. Keeping those with crutches from having to navigate through chairs and tables by seating them close to aisles is kind to everyone. Placing moms with babies at the fringe of the tables allows them to easily disappear when need be. Simply taking stock of each guest’s personal situation helps create a seating chart that works.
  6. The United Nations Principle: Everyone understands and accepts that those who are closest to the bride and groom will be seated at tables nearest to the head table. But beyond those few select tables, it’s important to assign seats with an eye towards equality. No one likes to be delegated to the back of the room, but someone has to be. The trick is to make sure that no one feels like a second-class citizen. The bride’s third cousin may actually have less contact with her than the bride’s friend from the gym. One is related. One is a better friend. Who gets to sit closer? The best solution is that both of them get seated together at a table, either near or far, and that every other table is populated in a similar fashion. If handled in this even-handed manner, no one will feel slighted.
  7. The Uh-Oh Principle: Planning for the unexpected will prevent distress. There’s always someone who decides to come at the last minute who had previously RSVP’d to the contrary. Planning for this by assigning “ghost” seating here and there throughout the tables, and adding a few “ghost” meals to the catering, will solve the problem. Guests who were invited but declined because of a scheduling conflict, only to discover they could come after all, should feel welcome.

 
Wedding Guests Appreciate Thoughtful Seating

There is much to think about when creating the perfect wedding reception seating chart, but with dedicated consideration, it will prove to be well worth the investment in time.

The wedding reception is a celebration, and celebrations should be joyous. But it is careful planning that often backs the greatest “spontaneous” joy.

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Tips for Preventing a Disaster When Planning a Family Party

Tips for Preventing a Disaster When Planning a Family PartyFamily Parties are unlike casual gatherings among friends. The reason being that a faux pas in this area will be the topic of discussion for years to come. That being said, tips for preventing disasters in these situations is useful knowledge.

When Planning Food Choices

Always beware of any food allergies and intolerances in your family. There is not a worse party disaster than sending a relative into anaphylactic shock.

Tips for Dinnertime Parties

If your party is planned at dinner time, use warm foods that are easy to prepare ahead of time. Soups are a good hot meal that can be simmering as the host does last minute cleaning and decorating. A good soup is not hard to create. All you need is: chicken, beef or vegetable stock, a corresponding meat, and a nice selection of vegetables. Simmer these ingredients for one to two hours. Soup can either be served with finger foods or a some type of bread. Bread bowls, dinner rolls and cornbread are excellent sides. Always be sure to bake or purchase more than you think you will need, to avoid running out of food if the turnout is larger than expected.

Tips for Preventing a Disaster When Planning a Family Party - anytime partiesTips for Anytime Parties

Elaborate cooking is not always important when entertaining. Foods served should be simple to prepare in large quantities. Snack platters are ideal for parties that fall in-between normal mealtimes. One option is the classic crackers, cheese and summer sausage selection. Cheese can either be in slices or a cheese ball. Another option for the snack platters is mini sandwiches. For these just use dinner rolls or croissants, lunch meat and cheese. These sandwiches are best served with chips and dip.

Tips for Preventing a Disaster When Planning a Family Party - party decorDecor Tips

Planning the decor is simple. Start with a clean open area. Set your food selection on a kitchen table or counter. Light candles that match your carpet, drapes or the season. Be sure to place your candles high enough so that they’re safe from children. On major holidays, consider using centerpieces, wreaths or paper skeletons for a nice touch. Set up a separate area for any children present. If space is limited, consider using a spare room or your garden or yard. Provide crayons, paper, small toys and an age appropriate movie.

Planning the Guest Listplanning the guest list

The issues of budget and space need to be addressed first. Invitations of the formal variety are not always necessary with family parties. Phone calls can be useful and the hostess will find out immediately which guests plan to attend. Reminder texts or calls can avoid and empty table if guests were invited a week or more before. Be careful not to invite two people who are currently not speaking to each other. Or to avoid hurt feelings, arrange seating so they will not be forced to sit next to each other. Awkward silences could result from poorly planned invites.

If Guests Offer to Bring Something

Family guests will usually offer to bring something. It is, however, tacky to ask people to bring more than one item. In order to prevent a late arrival from holding up a meal, don’t ask guests to bring anything that needs to be cooked before serving. Drinks, salads, and desserts are all acceptable requests.

Preventing the Last Minute Crisis

Last minute issues usually lie in the details. To prevent a disaster before party day, a host should always know: What type of dinnerware and utensils will be used, who is bringing what, how many adults and children will be attending, and what type of beverage each guest prefers. A sample drink spread is one type of alcohol, two types of soda, and two types of juice.

While there is no guarantee that family guests will get along, these tips should help any family party be a total success.

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How to Plan a Benefit

How to Plan a Benefit - events managementBenefits and charity events often raise much needed money and awareness for various causes and issues. Planning your own benefit can give you the opportunity to contribute to a cause or charity that you are passionate about or is close to your heart. The most common types of benefits include auctions, performances and concerts, but you can transform just about any event into a benefit to raise money for a cause. To put on a truly successful event, you will need to be outgoing, patient, motivated, organized and ready to network.

Decide on a goal

Most benefits have a financial goal, but your goal could also be other types of donations or to raise a certain level of awareness. Either way, you need to establish a clear objective for what you want to accomplish with your benefit. Explain this goal to all members of your team and anyone you recruit to help you put on the event. Use a fundraising thermometer to track the status of your goal during the benefit.

Choose the type of event you want to put on

Common benefit and fundraising events include formal dinners, auctions, concerts, performances and sports tournaments. Find out what services you have available in your community, and which type of event will draw the highest crowd for the area you live in. You can also think outside the box and organize something fun, such as a benefit bar crawl or carnival.

Recruit a committee of volunteers

You will need people to help you do everything from stuff envelopes with invitations to take tickets or donations the night of the benefit. Talk to people in your community who share a passion for your cause and enroll them in volunteering for your event. Contact any charities or organizations in your are who are working for a similar cause to see if they can spare any volunteers for your benefit. If you want to get people interested, it helps to be well informed and educated about your cause when recruiting.

How to Plan a Benefit - charity event and fundraisingSelect a venue

The type of venue you choose will set the mood for your benefit and determine the number of people you can accommodate. If the weather is nice, consider booking outside venues where you can fit more people and raise more money for your cause. Take care of logistics and detail

Take care of logistics and details

Depending on the type of event you are planning, you will need to reserve food, alcohol, entertainment and other small items such as tables, chairs, napkins and silverware. Send out invitations and prepare promotional materials, such as brochures or fact cards, to pass out the night of your event. Do not forget to think about basics, such as how you will collect donations. If you want to focus all your energies on the night benefit, it would be best if you use the services of an events management company.

Promote your event

Create an electronic invitation page for your event online and send it to your entire contact list. Create pages on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to promote your event further online. Be sure to tell everyone you know about your benefit and ask them to spread the word.

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