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Seven essential tips for throwing a foolproof, amazing cocktail party. Plus, perfect party recipes, including the five most popular appetizer recipes.

By Food & Wine
Updated June 15, 2017
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Recipes

Rum Drinks
Bacon-and-Romaine Skewers with Blue Cheese Dressing
Credit: Jody Horton
Crudités with Creamy Pistachio Dip
Credit: © Anna Williams

7 Essential Tips

1. Count eight hors d’oeuvres per person per hour when you’re not serving a meal.

2. Balance the menu: offer hot kebabs alongside room-temperature dips, rich cheese straws next to low-fat poached shrimp, spicy quesadillas beside delicate crab salad.

3. Provide at least one vegetarian offering.

4. Consider your kitchen equipment. If you have only a standard range, don’t limit yourself to stovetop dishes—serve a combination of stovetop, baked, raw, room-temperature and cold foods.

5. Choose a few make-ahead dishes so there’s less to do on the day of the party.

6. Stay away from dips if you’re worried about staining your carpet.

7. Decorate platters with whole spices or colorful dried bean compositions. But don’t be surprised when some guests think the garnishes are edible, whether they’re Scotch bonnet chiles, peppercorns or flowers. People have even been known to eat decorative pebbles.

Entertaining Guides

Strawberry-Lemon Mojitos

F&W’s Cocktail Guide

Grilled Shrimp Satay
Credit: © John Kernick

Ultimate Party Guide

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Cheese Plate Tips

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