Cocktail parties are one of our favorite types of parties.
They’re classy, adults-only (sometimes), and stocked with delicious cocktails… What’s not to love?
The holidays are the perfect time to host a cocktail party because that festive vibe adds another layer of elegance and fun.
A cocktail party spices up the crazy busy holiday calendar that’s currently full of family functions and all the kid’s stuff. ALSO… a cocktail party is a holiday commitment guests won’t secretly dread.
Needless to say, we should all plan to host a holiday cocktail party this season.
So if you’re overwhelmed by putting one of these together, don’t be. It can be really minimal and still be super elevated.
Here’s how to bring together a cocktail party that your guests will love:
How To Throw A Holiday Cocktail Party At Home
♡ Send classy invitations with all the info.
Digital invites technically get the job done, but feel free to class it up with real, paper mailed ones for your holiday party.
Real paper invitations will set the tone for your elevated party. It’ll also have all the important info like location, date, time, and dress code.
Throwing a cocktail party that people will remember for YEARS starts right here with quality invitations. Lauryn is obsessed with Bliss and Bone for all her mailed invitiations, and good news, they have an evite only option that brings their incredible designs straight to your guests’ inboxes. Stalk their past work for Lauryn here and here.
♡ Have a combination of bougie drinkware.
This party is ALL about the drinks so your cocktails need bougie vessels to live in.
Get some high-quality drinkware in a combination of glass types. Champagne flutes, martini glasses, carafes, highball glasses, wine glasses, pitchers, and more should all be represented at your party.
For festive (but classy) drinkware, look at this Westwood collection that has both red and clear glasses to really make things Christmassy.
Or, consider this plaid set that has a subtle holiday-inspired yet minimal vibe that’s perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, or anything else you celebrate this time of year.
♡ Establish multiple drink stations.
Have multiple curated drink stations so your guests can try different cocktails that they don’t have to wait for.
You could also have a station with a pitcher of hard cider, garnishes like cinnamon sticks, and a platter of apple desserts.
Then, at another one, you could have a carafe of eggnog, some whipped cream, and a tray of creme brulee donuts. Doesn’t that sound like everything you ever wanted for Christmas?
Anyway, the best way to do these stations is with the surfaces in your house and/or bar carts. Just be sure to leave some surfaces available for people to sit around and talk, eat, drink, and be merry—you know the drill.
♡ Decorate in a simple and aesthetic way.
If you’re hosting a holiday party, decor is essential. In fact, this is 100% necessary for setting the party mood.
Just remember, this is not Santa’s workshop. Remember, your beautiful cocktails and bar carts are already are setting the vibe so keep your decor minimal, classy but festive.
(And, if your cocktail party is for Christmas, be sure your tree is up and decorated, too.)
♡ Get lots of versatile liquor options.
Your cocktail party should certainly have something for everyone. Have vodka, gin, light rum, bourbon, whiskey, and some bubbly on hand as a minimum. Oh, and don’t forget your hangover-free wine from Dry Farm Wines. A nice range of red, white, and rosé in a wine rack that’s easy to see can be a fun part of your set up too.
♡ Go festive with the mixers and garnishes.
To make those drinks holiday-ready, stock up on festive, seasonal mixers and garnishes.
For mixers, think things like vanilla, chocolate liqueur, apple cider, eggnog, cranberry juice, etc.
Also, for garnishes, go with stuff like crushed peppermint, shaved coconut, cinnamon sticks, mulling spice, apples, pomegranate seeds, grapes, and sugared cranberries. So delicious.
♡ Make some batch cocktails, but let guests get creative too.
Big batch cocktails are the best way to serve your guests. There are SO many tasty cocktail recipes online, but we love the sound of peppermint mimosas and big pitcher of classic margaritas are a crowd pleaser and EASY. Just add your rim of salt or Tajin and pour over ice.
On top of your big batch cocktails, be sure to have a range of mixes to go with your different spirits listed above. Orange juice, grapefruit juice, cola, club soda, sparkling water, bitters and lots of lemons, limes, grapefruit and orange wedges.
♡ Curate a signature cocktail.
A signature cocktail is the PERFECT way to elevate your party. Ours would definitely include the Skinny Apple Fizz. Try it if you haven’t yet.
Experiment for a while and find something that fits you and your theme. Your guests will be obsessed with this personal touch that doubles as a welcome drink.
♡ Have non-boozy options too.
Your friends that don’t drink shouldn’t be excluded from the party. Mocktails can be just as fun as cocktails. (And no hangover . . . so maybe they’re onto something?)
Both this cranberry fizz mocktail and this Italian blood orange soda are classy non-alcoholic drinks that’ll still look sexy AF in your drinkware—no vodka required. Other non-acoholic options to consider: 0% beer, kombucha, Ollipop, flavored sparkling water.
♡ Have plenty of hors d’oeuvres and desserts.
Surely, a great party is pretty much defined by its food and drink options, right? This is especially true for a holiday-themed cocktail party.
Have plenty of hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, and desserts served buffet style for all your guests. And above all, go with classic cocktail pairings like cheese boards, puff pastry, and shrimp cocktails. A selection of cookies, crackers, smoked salmon and dips always go over well too.
If you’re not much of a chef or baker hit up your local supermarket for premade items from their deli OR ask your friends for some help to keep things more budget-friendly. A lot of people love helping out and don’t like coming to a party empty-handed so if you feel comfortable, ask a few friends to make or bring and appetizer.
♡ Give the party a personal touch.
What’s going to make your holiday cocktail party one to remember? All in all, you’ll want to think about some bougie and totally unnecessary extra element that’ll give the event a total wow factor.
Here are some ideas:
♡ Commission an ice sculpture
♡ Impress with the best nugget ice machine
♡ Hire a DJ and have a disco ball
♡ Hire a bartender, musician, and/or photographer
♡ Have fresh flowers everywhere
♡ Create custom cards to name your drink stations
Other Holiday Cocktail Party Ideas
Firstly, a Friendsgiving cocktail party is such a good idea. It’s unquestionably the perfect way for a bunch of adults to get together, catch up, and get buzzed.
With a Thanksgiving-themed holiday cocktail party, you’ll want more emphasis on the food choices and the decor should be more fall-inspired than winter. These are our ideas:
♡ Thanksgiving-themed appetizers
♡ Pumpkin everything (no shame in being basic)
♡ Foliage decor
♡ Brunch instead of lunch
♡ Pie bar
We think adults are tired of the white elephant gift exchanges and massive holiday meals that come with Christmas—especially since it seems like we all get invited to like half a dozen of those.
Moreover, a Christmas cocktail party is way more fun for you and your adult friends. These are our ideas to elevate the cozy holiday vibe and maintain the giving spirit of Christmas in the form of a cool cocktail party:
♡ Ornament gift exchange
♡ All-white decor
New Years Ideas
New Year’s parties are OBVIOUSLY a blast, and a cocktail party feels like a pretty natural way to ring in the new year. So think glam, glitz, and lots of booze. This is what we’d do:
♡ Go heavy on the glitter and sparkle (general rule for life)
♡ Instagrammable photo wall
♡ Decorate with aesthetic clocks
♡ Fondue (chocolate, cheese, whatever)
♡ Confetti for everyone
♡ Custom New Year wine labels
Elevate the holiday season with a cozy and classy cocktail party!
We hope you were inspired by all these cocktail party ideas. This time of year is super busy, so get to planning right away and get those invitations sent.
So let your holidays be merry, boozy, and bright by celebrating with a cocktail party.
Until then . . . what’s your favorite seasonal cocktail?! Tell, tell.
x, The Skinny Confidential team
+ check out these Prosecco cocktail recipes.
++ stalk Lauryn’s latest links for some fun gift ideas.