The holidays are here. Time to step-up your cocktail game.
Ever since I planned mine and Joe’s 2015 nuptials, I was hooked on the idea of event planning. I learned that entertaining and playing hostess was something I loved to do. Whether it’d be on a larger scale like Leo’s baptism, or a more intimate setting like my best friend’s bachelorette, I’m always up for a party (or two!).
Rita Wong is the owner and founder of Rita Wong Events. She is, in basic terms, queen bee of Montreal’s party planning industry. After sifting through her Instagram and witnessing her work, all I could tell myself was: “Can my 10-year vow renewal come any sooner?!”
When I heard that Rita would be hosting an event to teach the A-Z of hosting cocktail parties, I was ecstatic. I mean, who wouldn’t want to learn straight from the expert?!
How to Host a Fabulous Holiday Cocktail Party: with Rita Wong Events & Cointreau
So, you’re ready to take on your first holiday get-together? Take a breath. Relax. Everything will go okay. The most important part is to be organized, have fun, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
In Rita and Cointreau‘s event, guests walked through a circuit-style setup to learn from some of the industry’s top experts. Each station was dynamic, keeping us interested, entertained, and well-fed.
At one station, we were warmly welcomed by Rita. Charismatic and compelling, Rita had tons of valuable lessons to share about party planning. At florals, we met with Robert Pettigrew (psst: if that name seems familiar it’s because he is, in fact, Celine Dion’s florist) to get hands-on with flower arrangements.
The final station was a Cointreau interactive bar. (I know, right?! You can only imagine my excitement when I found out that I’d be mixing cocktails alongside Cointreau‘s very own experts.) Here, we were handed a cocktail guide and given the ultimate instruction on creating delicious, high-quality drinks. It was hands-on, full of information, and so much fun. (And duh, we got to drink our own concoctions… along with other beverages!)
Here was the overall takeaway:
Tablescape & General Ambiance
The first aspect to think of is your party’s theme: will you be showcasing a specific colour? A motif?
When it comes to themes, you’ll also want to think of the general ambiance of your party. Will it be a more intimate, formal, sit-down dinner? Perhaps you want to set up a buffet and have everyone serve themselves. If you’re expecting a larger guestlist, passed hors d’oeuvres may be your best bet.
Set up your table to make it convenient yet, beautiful for your guests. A few suggestions:
- Menu cards on each table setting for more formal dinners
- Candles, candles, candles: set the tone (they’re pretty and budget-friendly)
- For buffet-style parties, ensure you have enough plates, cups, cutlery (consider rental to ensure that you have more than the right amount)
Take your party to the next level with unforgettable floral arrangements. Be bold and create a “hills and valleys look” by using vases of different heights. Go for seasonal flowers and greenery to ensure that your arrangements are looking crisp and fresh.
Don’t be afraid to “accessorize” your floral decor. A bouquet could be elevated with a few ornaments, well-placed branches, etc.
The Perfect Cocktail
Okay, so imagine this: your guests arrive, they put their coats away, and you walk towards them whilst handing them a welcome cocktail.
Hostess goals: check!
A holiday cocktail party isn’t complete without… well, a cocktail.
- Go for gold – you’ll only want to use quality ingredients for your mixed drinks. Cointreau offers the best flavour because they use the best ingredients.
- Prepare your cocktail in batches. This will make your life easier as you’re serving. Essentially, you’ll just have to pour the drink and garnish it.
- Take flavours into consideration (because it’s all about balance). Mix it up with sweet and bitter notes. It will regulate the overall taste of your signature beverage.
When it comes to balance, Cointreau has perfected its game. The orange liqueur boasts both sweet and bitter orange peel that creates an incredibly delicious flavour.
So what are you waiting for? Enjoy the fruits of your labour. If it weren’t for you, this holiday cocktail party wouldn’t be a reality. Rita suggests: “The thing to remember about hosting a really beautiful, festive and delicious party is that you are enjoying if you were a guest as well. This is why it’s beneficial to get as much done before and to make it about treating your guests to a wonderful experience.”
Do you plan on hosting any holiday parties this year? What are your tips and tricks? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!