cocktailhour

Self-styled kitchen vixen, Babe Scott, has just released her new book, The Lazy Hostess, the ultimate guide to getting you through the party season in style – without much fuss. It’s packed with practical and sassy tips to ensure your parties are talked about (for all the right reasons), with everything covered from invites and playlists to who to invite and how to get rid of guests who just won’t leave!

We think The Lazy Hostess would make a great Christmas present for your BFF, sister, mum or aunty.

Excerpt from The Lazy Hostess by Babe Scott. Published by Random House, RRP $29.95.

I’m on a mission to bring back Cocktail Hour. This tradition is the height of retro chic and adds a little sparkle to even the dullest week. It’s the perfect excuse to put on your glad rags and rev up your blender. Furthermore, cocktails are the perfect social lubricant. If you want a passport to popularity, then hosting a semi-regular Cocktail Hour is the best way to do it. It’s also an ideal way to lump a bunch of people together without too much fuss. It will help you build and cement your social circle in a way that only an alcohol-propelled party can.

Cocktail Hour can be a fairly intimate affair or a big, thrashing, swinging-from-the-chandeliers event. It’s an opportunity to quaff cocktails and snack on finger food while mingling with other guests. In theory, cocktail parties go from two to three hours.

However, my soirées usually last long into the night. On my invitation I generally put a start and end time of 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., but I’m nearly always trying to crowbar the laggards out the door at well past midnight.

Since there are bound to be a couple of last-minute no-shows, invite one extra person for every ten guests who say they are coming. Make sure your friends also know you are not Ivana-berich Trump and to bring a bottle of plonk. Work out what you need and let each of your guests bring a contribution to the beverage quota. Remember: the purpose of this event is to up your fun quotient, not to land you in the ‘pour’ house.

A Sinfully Sexy Invitation
It’s worth emailing a proper invitation. Simply calling on the phone or sending a random text doesn’t convey a sense of occasion. Nor do the generic invitations you can find online. A gorgeous invitation will make your event stand out and will also convey right mood. The invitation should evoke old-school glamour and a sense of excitement. It should also clearly set a dress code. You want your friends to know they can’t just turn up in their flip-flops for a beer but should do their best to look foxy.

Spruce Up Your Space
Arrange furniture so that guests can move around the room easily and engage in a little impromptu dancing later on in the evening. Clear debris from whatever surfaces you can so guests have somewhere to leave their glasses and you have somewhere to put snack bowls. Make sure your guests can clearly see the snacks and offer them to people when you’re doing the rounds.

Set up a table for beverages, as well as a separate station for finger food. Preferably, position these stations on opposite sides of the room to cut down on people traffic. Make sure there is some seating around the sides of the room for guests who need to catch their breath from dancing like the possessed. Throw a couple of tablecloths over your stations to spruce them up. Put one or two citrus-fruit halves, cut side down, on the table for people to stick their used toothpicks into. If you don’t have enough serving plates, then improvise – cutting boards, picture frames, lightweight mirrors or even large books. You can also often buy beautiful vintage platters and serving plates from antique stores for next to nothing.

Decorative Touches
Decorate with some festive bunches of flowers if you like, even if you borrow them from the garden of a green-fingered neighbour. Vine leaves also work a treat and create a Bacchanalian effect. If you are an artsy-craftsy type and want to save money, consider creating vases out of old bottles by purchasing a bottle cutter. Or you could put a handy friend to the task. You can also make votive candleholders and even drinking glasses

Smooth Soundtracks
Music helps your guests unwind and gets them into a celebratory mood. A great soundtrack is crucial for to a memorable night. The tunes selected should ideally match your theme and the atmosphere you want to create. The best way to manage the music is to create a couple of playlists for the party so you can strike the right mood. The earlier one can be a bit more mellow and then as things rev up put on a party mix.

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