Choose-Your-Own Cocktail Party

Blueprint, September/October 2007

Hosting a successful get-together doesn't have to be all pain or no gain. Instead of making everything too hard (cooking for days beforehand) or too easy (picking up some wine and a couple of wedges of cheese), select a few festive options from our cocktail party primer for a mix-and-match bash that's just right for you and your guests.

The Magic Formula
To feed 10 people for two hours, you'll need about seven batches of hors d'oeuvres. Start with a vegetarian option, a low-fat snack, and a nut-free dish. This will take care of any dietary restrictions. Add to those at least one guest-impresser that can command the center of the table and no more than three hot items (unless you want to spend the whole party sweating over the stove). Assemble a menu from the selections below (each batch serves 10, unless otherwise noted), or check out the sample schemes (below).

To get started, consult our library of mix-and-match recipes below (sorted by level of difficulty). First is Effortless Ideas (the secret: everything is store bought and needs little prep). Next comes Elevated Basics (these starters and drinks have minimal ingredients and maximum inspiration). Finally, Extra-Credit Elements (our show-stopping homemade munchies and a bespoke cocktail).

Effortless Ideas
Elevated Basics
Extra-Credit Elements
Sample Schemes and Shortcuts
Party Etiquette and Soundtrack

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