I recently celebrated my birthday by inviting a small group of friends for a cocktail party, but with a twist.
I got this idea from a co-worker, and it sounded so fun I knew I had to adopt it for myself. The idea is to host a party, provide the food, ice, and the ambiance, but to ask your guests to bring a batch of their favorite cocktail to share with everyone. The “activity” of the party is to sample everyone’s libation, vote on your favorite, and then declare a winner.
I hosted my birthday cocktail party at Hurley House, but I can guarantee this party would work so well in any size home. In fact, this party ended up being one of the easiest events I have ever hosted, and I cannot wait to repeat it next year.
On the invitation, I encouraged everyone to show up in “dapper cocktail attire,” and I love how we all rose to the occasion! It’s fun to get dressed up with your friends for a party!
I did not make a single thing from scratch for this party, and this decision turned out to be a gift I gave myself! I served an ample cheeseboard, shrimp cocktail, potato chips with creme fraiche and caviar (the “fake” kind), vegetable sushi, truffle butter popcorn, and goat cheese covered with jalapeno chow chow.
For dessert, I served multiple Tiny Cakes from Hurley House which doubled as my table decor, surrounded by glass votives and cute paper plates! For a late night snack, I assembled some simple cheese and pickled jalapeno nachos and served them right off of the hot sheet tray. It was the perfect nibble at the end of the evening.
DECOR & DETAILS.
Details are the best part of a party, and I wanted to include as many cute touches as possible. For decoration, I strung up fairy lights in a few key places, lit one million votive candles, put together a grouping of brass candlesticks with pastel tapers, and scattered a few bud vases with flowers on the drink table.
The decor was far from elaborate, but the overall effect was glowy and beautiful. I made a fun playlist full of my favorite upbeat tunes, and the vibe was full of joy and celebration.
I can confidently say, my friends are expert cocktail crafters! When each person arrived, I had a tray waiting for them with their name on a simple place card. They set up their supplies on their tray, and then when it was their turn to present their drink, they brought their tray to where we were sitting and served everyone.
We had so much fun learning about each drink, tasting them, and then discussing what we liked along the way. I love how the pacing of the party was very easy and laid back. We would nibble, then someone would share their cocktail, then more snacking and conversation, and then another cocktail. It was delightful. Near the end we dove into the cakes with forks, which felt familial and comfortable.
It was also interesting to see what flavors we each gravitated towards, how each drink was presented, and the fun details each person brought. We noticed each drink seemed to represent the personality of each person in a very distinct way. Rachel included hand-crafted stir sticks. Nicole didn’t measure her ingredients. Kara’s recipe was detailed and intricate. We laughed a lot along the way, which is the best way to spend an evening.
You can’t have a party without favors, and as a send off for my friends, I packaged up coconut water, pink eye patches, and hangover helper tablets as a nod to the much-needed next-day recovery.
The point of the party was to create space to connect with a small circle of friends and to spend an evening intentionally being together in a festive, fun manner. This party delivered everything I wanted and more.
Photos by Lo Baptista with Lo + Co.
Love this idea — can’t wait for an opportunity to steal it for a party with my girlfriends!
Janet Kasper says
what a great idea, so creative! Loved the variety of drink trays!!
Jean Hollister says
Katherine.. happy SPECIAL YOU day! You are such a giving person!
So fun!! I am going to adapt the idea to do a Poolside or Summer Cocktail Party! My birthday is in January so cannot wait that long to do it 😉