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Chic Winter Cocktail Party Tips

All you need you host a successful winter cocktail party at home are a great invitation, a few signature cocktails, tasty hors d'ouevres and simple decorations.

Cocktail parties aren't as fussy as dinner parties. There's no grand feast to prepare, no crazy shopping list to check twice and no giant guest list to try and manage.

Here are a few ideas for gathering your favorite people in your warm, cozy home for a holiday cocktail party!

Tips to Host a Merry Winter Cocktail Party

1. Before you do anything, think about invitations. The winter season may not be as popular for impromptu celebrations like the summer season, but that's because it's chock full of formal ones! Between Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's Eve, Super Bowl and Valentine's Day, just to name a few, there's a lot of partying going on.

Make sure your guests have adequate time to get your party on their calendar by sending invitations out at least 4 weeks in advance; 6 weeks is even better!

2. Create a central space for food and drink. Like any party, your central gathering spot at your cocktail soiree will be around two places - the bar and the buffet. Use tiered plates and trays to display and serve bites as they will provide easier access for guests to see what you're offering as well as add dimension to your display.

If you're lucky enough to have a bartender employed for the party, go to town with whatever drinks you'd like to serve. However, if this is a smaller soiree you want to enjoy, too, don't get stuck mixing drinks all night. Offer beer, wine, soda and water, as well as one signature party sip.

3. A great idea is to have the signature sip ready as guests enter your party. Let's face it: When do we ever shake up a special drink at home? A signature sip will automatically reinforce the specialness of your party with guests even if it is in a familiar hang out space.

More importantly, you can have ingredients and directions for your party's signature recipe displayed at the self-serve bar for guests to refill their glasses themselves if desired.

Check out our cocktail recipes to find the perfect one for your soiree!

4. The idea of a cocktail party isn't to remain in one seat all night; it's about mixing and mingling! Set up a focal point for your party, but don't forget to stage additional cluster spots throughout your party space.

Scattering hors d'ouevres throughout your rooms and near areas where there's a surface to rest drinks is best. If you have a staff serving passed mini bites, consider placing out bowls filled with sweet and spiced nuts. They're great to munch on and also add a nice aroma to the space!

5. Cocktail parties can be fun, but be responsible! Perhaps the most important tip of all for a successful cocktail party is to have fun ... responsibly. As host, make sure you have alternative options in place should a guest be unable to drive home. For example, get a list of cab numbers or round up a group of designated drivers to play taxi for the night.

Find more party planning inspirations for Dinner Parties

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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Exotic Cocktail Recipe Video Link to video gallery. Upgrade your spring sips with this cocktail tutorial. »

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