Easy Cocktail Party Ideas

Hosting a cocktail party? We have you covered with our best tips for entertaining a crowd, including how to serve fancy cocktails and dress up plain-Jane drinks. Plus, get a tasty and creative cocktail recipe with each new tip!

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  • Plan for a Crowd

    When making cocktails for a crowd, whether large or small, easily estimate the quantity of ingredients you'll need with our guides. Make sure you have enough ingredients for everyone who's coming a day or two before the party, and don't forget to have enough ice on hand. Use our beverage quantity guide, available below, to determine how much you'll need for your cocktail party.

    Make our Fizzes for your party-going crowd:

  • Rim Glasses with Salt

    Give party drinks an extra-special touch by rimming the glass with salt (or sugar, depending on the flavor of your drink.) Wet the outside rim of each glass with a lemon wedge, fill a shallow bowl with kosher salt, and dab the rim into the bowl, making sure you're only covering the outer edge. Shake off any excess and serve!

    Salted glasses go great with our Ginger Beer Shandy:

  • Have a Do-It-Yourself Drink Bar

    For a casual, laid-back party, set up an area for guests to make their own drinks. Include glasses, ingredients, and napkins -- along with instructions on how to make each drink -- on a table, so you can spend less time playing hostess and more time socializing.

    Learn how to make our tasty mojito:

  • Make Drinks in Advance

    If you're hosting a large crowd, minimize stress by making the drinks before guests arrive. Instead of making individual cocktails, prepare a full pitcher (or two, depending on how many people you're expecting) and keep it in the fridge. Don't add the ice until you take it out for the guests, otherwise the whole pitcher will become watered down.

  • Serve Drinks in Unique Glasses

    Add unique flair to your next cocktail party by serving your drinks in interesting glasses. Mason jars or recycled jam jars are fun ways to serve cocktails without purchasing one-of-a-kind glassware.

  • Experiment with Drink Garnishes

    If the cocktail you're making calls for muddling fruits and herbs -- such as this blackberry cocktail -- make it partyworthy by adding in a few extra ingredients for garnish.

  • Watch: How to Make a Berrytini

    Learn how to make a refreshing, delicious berrytini from Better Homes and Gardens contributor Charles Worthington.

  • Serve Seasonal Cocktails

    When deciding on what to serve at your cocktail party, keep the season in mind. A nice, warm drink is perfect for a winter get-together, while drinks that require ice are more suited for summer parties.

  • Dress Up Cocktail Napkins

    If your cocktail party has a theme, create your own fun napkins to match. Use a crafts punch to cut out the corner of one napkin, then slip a contrasting color napkin in between for a standout shape.

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    Make Your Party Man-Friendly

    Not all cocktails are fruity and feminine -- try mixing up your drink menu with a recipe that requires beer. A Black Patent gives party guests the best of both worlds -- chocolate vodka and simple syrup plus a bottle of dry stout beer, such as Guinness.

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    Prepare Garnishes Beforehand

    If you want to dress up your drinks with interesting garnishes, don't wait until you're serving each one to prepare them. Especially if the garnishes contain perishable items, such as fruit. Make them ahead of time and store them in the fridge. Take them out just before pouring each drink to make serving a breeze.

  • Next Slideshow How to Throw a Casual Mexican Taco Party Like a Chef

    How to Throw a Casual Mexican Taco Party Like a Chef

    Whether you're celebrating Day of the Dead, Cinco de Mayo, or just a low-key Friday night with friends, a build-your-own-taco buffet and a few colorful decorations make for a fun Mexican-theme party. "Top Chef" judge and frequent party host Hugh Acheson shows you how.
    Begin Slideshow »
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