Entertaining is stressful enough on it's own, but when add in the pressure of friends and family clamoring to congratulate you on your newly engaged status, it's no wonder why some couple's prefer to pass on an engagement party. One way to manage stress? Plan a more low-key event, like a chic-yet-laid back cocktail engagement party. Since he recently released an exclusive tabletop line for Macy's called Effortless Table which is perfect for entertaining, we asked The Chew co-host Clinton Kelly to share his top tips for pulling off a flawless party that won't leave you ready to pull your hair out.
Stay calm and enjoy yourself!
This is Clinton's number one entertaining rule, and for very good reason! "You set the tone for your party," Clinton explains. "If you are frazzled and complaining about the time, money, and effort you expended to throw a shindig, your guests will feel uncomfortable and stressed."
Don't forget the invitations.
A cocktail party might feel informal, but it's still your engagement party. Clinton is a huge believer in mailing out a personalized invitation. "That's particularly true for special occasions like this one," he says. Luckily, there are tons of festive and totally affordable options out there! "If you must send invitations by email, be sure to send a personalized email addressed to each invitee."
See More: How to Plan an Engagement Party
It's okay to ask for (or pay for!) help.
Clinton recommends hiring a bartender if your event will exceed 30 guests to avoid slow downs over drinks. To ensure everyone is well-fed, he suggests hiring a server if you'll be hosting more than 20 loved ones.
Serve the appropriate amount of food.
On one hand, you don't want guests to leave hungry, but on the other, having lots of untouched apps is a waste of funds. "A good rule of thumb is that each person will eat 10 appetizers over the course of the evening," Clinton says. "In general, people will consume two drinks each for the first hour and then about one drink per hour after that." Serving wine only? Then plan to have at least one bottle per guest on hand. And don't plan to bring food out all evening long. "If you're hosting a party, you don't want to be running in and out of the kitchen all night."
Play to your newly engaged status.
Anyone can host a cocktail party, but Clinton suggests incorporating details about you and your significant other to make the event feel more personal. Display your photos, add your favorite foods to the menu, and decorate with your most beloved bridal bloom. Another fun idea? "Plan a newlywed-style game for the happy couple," Clinton suggests. "They both write down answers to questions asked in advance and reveal the answers at the party to see how many match up."
Don't drag the party out.
Clinton recommends planning your cocktail engagement party to last anywhere from two to four hours. "Guests should feel free to mingle and get to know one another," Clinton says.
For more great entertaining tips, head over to ClintonKelly.com.