I learned a lot of things from that cocktail party. Not just useful things like the prep time of each of the menu items, or that having friends who know how to mix drinks is equal parts dangerous and entertaining. I also learned how influential a guest list can be, and redefined my world as a hostess. I will therefore provide for you things that should be accomplished, and things that should not.
- Get help in the preparation. I had my best friend come over around 2/2:30pm in the afternoon. We enjoyed a bottle of wine and spent the afternoon cooking. Well, he spent the afternoon prepping things and I did the actual cooking.
- Buy something fabulous to wear. I bought a new wrap dress earlier that afternoon and therefore felt like a million dollars all evening.
- Take the time to talk to everyone. Even if it’s just 5 minutes here and there, make sure that you not only acknowledge the fact that they came, but that you can recall something witty or memorable from the conversation when you run into them later.
- Send the food out in stages. Obvious, I know, but I promise you it’s helpful.
- Keep a theme with the food. Everything needs to go together so that people’s pallets are not overwhelmed jumping from Tokyo to the depths of Mexico with every bite.
- Have extra alcohol on hand. Either people run out, or decide that they’re going to start mixing things…be a good host and be sure they can accomplish all of their desires.
- Leave your phone on past the time when everyone is there. From experience (and perhaps it’s just because I have a handful of slightly melodramatic friends) a certain few of your friends will choose your hostessing time as the most appropriate time to have inappropriate conversations.
- Expect everyone to get along swimingly. I did not expect this, as I know I have a significant number of friends with strong personalities that would inevitably clash. Many a judgemental look was cast and a mildly bitchy comment made, but then again…they are my friends.
- Leave all of the clean-up until the following morning. I took the time once everyone had left to at least fill the dishwasher once, and then gather all of the dishes into the kitchen. It saved me heaps of time in the morning, to an extent I cannot even fully explain.
- Ever expect that your guest room / couch / extra sleeping spaces will be completely vacant that night. It’s a good thing I’m a good morning host as well, as inevitably it will either be too late, a guest will have needed to lie down, or friends just wanted to stay over. Before the party even starts, have the breakfast bits (coffee, aspirin, Advil, toast) ready to go for the next morning. And it’s a bonus – extra hands to clean-up!
- Book anything early for the next day. Number one mistake I made besides the phone, having a group come over to my house the next day to work on an assignment…should have either been later in the afternoon or simply not that day at all.
Overall though, it went well. I’ve debriefed this party so many times with a variety of its participants and it taught me a lot of things. It reminded me that I prefer dinner parties, but that I am a qualified and skilled enough hostess to accomplish a cocktail party. Many an individual was shocked at the fact that I made everything from scratch…but I have never been so proud of my work in my life. Above all else, I was elegantly and perfectly reminded of who my friends are. I cannot express fully how much I love my core group of friends – they are perfection personified. And I shall never worry about a guest list again, as it was quite eloquently said to me on the night of: “Darling, we’re all friends with you and you’re enough to handle. Therefore, if we’ve been graced with the title of being one of your friends, then we should be able to mingle successfully with each other.”
Cheers to that, and to many more a dinner party and cocktail hour(s) in my future.