Aside from formal dinners for whatever occasion, cocktail parties are gatherings where good manners from both host and guests are highly appreciated. Keep in mind that cocktail parties allow all the guests to mingle with just about everybody possible within the usual 2-hour period set for such parties. As the host, you have to set the tone for the party starting with the invitations and ending when the last guest has departed the party.
You need not worry about being Miss Prim and Proper Manners during your own cocktail party. Everybody is expected to enjoy themselves over the cocktail drinks made from alcoholic beverages while getting to know the new persons in the circle, being reacquainted with old friends and maybe even sealing a business deal. However, we cannot overemphasize the need for basic good manners in a cocktail party, or whatever party it may be, for that matter.
Let’s start with the invitations. In most cases, cocktail parties demand formal invitations be sent to the expected guests with enclosed RSVP. You can send it through the mail although many hosts are now using e-mails to do so with the understanding that the structure of the invitation is on the semi-formal side. You may also enclose self-addressed envelopes but you may also give the option of calling to confirm attendance.
Such invitations are important so that you can determine the quantity and quality of drinks to be served during the party. Thus, if you have more guests, then you have to order more food and drinks. Or if you have more women than men, then a wider selection of for-women drinks may be appropriate but we must emphasize that it is an excellent idea to have a balanced ration between the genders.
On the invitations, you should also specify the dress code. At the very least, your guests will not feel improperly dressed. For a cocktail party, semi-formal dress is required while a cocktail buffet means a smart casual look and a cocktail reception means formal attire.
As the host, your primary duty is to ensure that everybody is enjoying himself/herself in the company of the other guests. You have to introduce the guests to each other especially when many of them have yet to be formally acquainted. In this way, your guests will feel more welcome and, hence, be more open to mingling with the others.
It is also important to make a connection between the guests being introduced to each other. For example, you may introduce Alex to Mary by saying that both of them went to the same school albeit at different years or that their families were once neighbors.
Now, you may also have to steer the conversation between new acquaintances. You should stick to the safe topics so as not to offend anybody’s sense and sensibility. Your topics may include current events, economy, professions, and even how you meet each one. Just make sure to stay away from topics like diets, health, money, religion, sex and race. Your guests should be able to take up the cue.
And of course, you should not drink yourself to oblivion. You are the host and it will not do to be the one making a scene in your own party. Ultimately, thanks to good manners, your cocktail party is rockin’ it.