Why would you choose to throw a party the old fashioned way? It’s a fair question, we guess. But perhaps “why wouldn’t you..?” would be a better one. The classics become classics for a reason, after all.
We believe that a good old fashioned party and a good old fashioned cocktail share the same key elements: a few simple ingredients that have stood the test of time, enhanced with a personal twist. When put together in the right way, they become so much more than the sum of their parts.
So if you’re planning a get-together, resist the temptation to copy the latest fancy-pants gimmicks and trends. For a top-notch party your guests will remember, follow our tips below and make yours a classic…
Set your budget
First off, decide how much dough you want to pony up. The budget for your party shouldn’t affect how much fun your guests have – we’ve thrown some wild wingdings on a shoestring – but it will influence some other choices you make about the size and scale of your event. Take a look at our packages for a range of party options based on how much scratch you plan to spend.
Choose a venue
The setting you choose will have a powerful impact on the atmosphere and style of your event, so make a decision early on in your planning process. If it’s an indoor gig, do you want a blank canvas to make your mark on? Or somewhere with an existing character that compliments your theme? Either way, be sure to pick a joint that’s large enough to accommodate all your furniture, decorations, props and guests.
Mother nature will have much more of a say in how outdoor parties play out, so you need to be ready for anything she could throw at you. Make sure you have enough shelter to keep guests warm and dry should they need it, or somewhere to stay cool if it’s a scorcher. If you plan to continue (or start) after dark, you’ll need outdoor lighting and heating to make sure everyone stays comfortable throughout the night.
Curate your guest list
Deciding who you do or don’t want to invite to your party can be a tough balancing act. If you fancy a free-for all where crashers are welcome, then let the good times roll! But remember this can make your event more difficult to cater for, as numbers are harder to predict. Alternatively you could opt for invitation-only to create an air of exclusive mystery. A mix of both works well in our experience: invite a set number of people but allow for an additional ten percent in your catering plans to cover any extra arrivals.
Next, you need to decide how to invite people. For an authentic 1920’s touch, send your guests a secret password they’ll need to use to gain access to your event.
Pick a theme
If your event has a particular theme, remember to let guests know about it in advance. Make sure to mention it on your invitations so guys and gals show up in their glad rags, dressed down, or come as the Easter Bunny depending what’s appropriate.
Themes work especially well for larger events. If all the different aspects of your party tie in to the overall look and feel it creates a polished, stylish impression. A theme also gives guests who don’t know each other something to yap about, which helps to break the ice.
For a theme that’s really tip-top, focus on three ‘big ticket’ items that will blow the socks off your guests and make your party memorable. You can have some fun here so let your imagination run wild – think secret rooms, photo booths interactive installations or unconventional games and prizes.
Set the mood
A party wouldn’t be a party without a soundtrack for your guests to cut a rug to. The choice between a live band and playing records is yours. Booking a band adds another dimension to the atmosphere with a physical performance, but they tend to be more expensive and take up more space. Either way, choose music that fits the theme and ambience of your event – a sit-down dinner will call for something much more sedate than a high-energy blowout.
Choose the right food
You’ll need to provide your guests with something to keep body and soul together. Whether you opt for nibbles, a buffet or full table service will depend on your theme and event type. Either way, you need to make sure nobody goes hungry, so be sure to include vegetarian and vegan options.
Asking people to respond to your invitation with any allergies or particular dietary requirements can help to keep everyone safe. And choosing high quality, locally sourced or unusual ingredients can provide an additional talking point.
Sort something to drink
This is the easy part – just let us handle it for you!
But if that’s not a possibility, don’t despair. Make sure your guests are greeted with a drink as they arrive, and that there’s some noodle juice on offer for the non-drinkers as well as booze. Check you have plenty available to keep everyone topped up all night. For a real showstopper, offer a signature drink with a personal twist that guests can’t get anywhere else.
Be the host with a toast
It might seem obvious, but don’t forget that as the host, you’ll want to have a swell time, too! If you can, make sure you have people to help with practicalities on the night. This will leave you free to work the room and tip a few with your guests. If you’re flying solo, try and prepare as much as you can beforehand. You may be asked to say a few words or make a toast, so have a couple of witty one-liners ready to keep yourself looking smooth in the spotlight.
Keep everyone comfortable
Don’t forget that guests will need somewhere to iron their shoelaces*. Or that accidents can happen when the hooch is flowing and people get too zozzled. Keeping a first aid kit close to hand is a wise move, as is having a first-aider in attendance at larger gatherings. And if your mob can be a rowdy bunch, it might be worth having security on hand to dish out the bum’s rush if need be.
The Old Fashioned Cocktail Company
*use the bathroom