I am finding traditional cocktail parties seem to be a thing of the past. I think people associate them with being stuffy; however, you can put a casual spin to the classic cocktail party. Now of course this style of entertaining isn’t exactly child friendly; however, the adults need some down time away from the kids every once in awhile.
The idea here is to have fun, experiment with new foods and beverages!
Cocktails can get expensive; however, when planning your beverage menu always look at using one or two types of liquor and always look at doing only one or two styles of specialty cocktails that use that liquor. For example if you are serving a cocktail that calls for regular vodka and you are using several different types of mixers with it a) don’t spend money on expensive vodka – no one will know the difference and b) if your guests ask if they can bring something ask them to bring a bottle of inexpensive vodka or a mixer that you delegate. You don’t want to end up with 3 bottles of Triple Sec!
If you serve only two types of specialty cocktails guests won’t get drunk trying them all and you won’t spend money on a ton of liquor! Also I always suggest that you as the host make the first batch of drinks and provide them in a pitcher. You will save money because you as the host can regulate how much liquor goes into each batch AND it limits the mess.
You will need to provide the ice, cocktail shaker and the glasses. The guests help themselves to pitchers of pre-mixed specialty drinks, they can shake – rattle – and – roll and voila it allows you to mingle and be the perfect host(ess)! Now don’t forget to put out water, soda – you want your guests to be responsible when it comes to driving!
As for the food – look at using seasonal food when choosing your hors d’ oeuvres – this will save you money. I suggest providing at least 4 to 5 hearty hors d’ oeuvres that can easily be made using ingredients that you may have in your pantry. This is also a way to save money – if your guests want to bring something tell them to bring an hors d’ oeuvre that serves at least three to four serving pieces per person. They can be cold or warm – let them know what works best for you. Also ask them to bring enough recipe cards that can be handed out to the guests in case they want the recipe themselves.
A few suggestions are:
Mini Baked Chicken Fingers with a Peanut or Thai dipping sauce –
I have my butcher take inexpensive chicken breasts and fillet them thinly for me. I then take a mixture of Italian bread crumbs with a little bit of garlic powder – roll the chicken in the mixture (no egg needed here) the breading will coat the chicken lightly (this is the very healthy & hearty version) – bake on a tin-foil lined cookie sheet (easy clean up) until golden brown Serve this on a unique tray with a bit of the dipping sauce and you have a great hors d’ oeuvre! These can be made ahead of time and popped into the oven at the last minute!
Mini Burgers –
I know these seem to be over done; but the idea is to allow your guests to fill up on good hearty food! Therefore I purchase frozen burger patties – thaw them. I also purchase mini potato dinner rolls. I then take a round cookie cutter and cut out three small patties from each of the larger patties…I save the extra meat and either create more mini- patties or I use the meat in tacos later in the week. I like the idea of baking the burger meat – it is healthier…I put the patties on a greased broiler pan and allow the drippings to drain into the lower portion…You can make cheese burgers regular burgers…you can have the fixings with them. OR create a station whereby your guests can create their own mini burgers…again, this doesn’t cost a whole lot and trust me – your guests will LOVE this! These too can be made ahead of time and popped into the oven at the last minute!
Rosemary Tomato Parmesan “tartlet” –
This is a perfectly light hors d’ oeuvre and takes absolutely no time to create! Purchase Carr’s Rosemary crackers – then take a Romano tomato (1/4 inch sliced, seeded) allow the slices to “drain” on paper towel until no more moisture is extracted from each slice. Once this is done place a slice of tomato on the cracker and sprinkle with shaved parmesan cheese – drizzle with a touch of olive oil and you have a perfect room temp hors d’ oeuvres!
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus –
This is so easy to create! Simply grill or blanch fresh spears of asparagus until tender – wrap with slices of prosciutto and then grate parmesan cheese and serve! Make these ahead of time and serve at room temp!
These are just a few ideas – and they are meant to save you time and money!
Other ideas are the classic mini meatballs in a spicy sauce, mini pigs in a blanket, fresh veggie trays, pita and hummus, think of ingredients that do not cost a lot, but that give a hearty variety for your guests.
When it comes to the décor, look at using inexpensive seasonal blooms that dot your home – don’t go crazy with arrangements – in this case less is more! Or just use a ton of votive candles. The idea is to create a fun lounge where guests can visit, eat and be merry without producing a full blow out dinner!