Cocktail Party Themes

What do Holly Golightly, James Bond and Del Boy have in common?

They all love a good cocktail. And we’ve got a themed cocktail party to suit each of them. Of course you don’t have to choose a theme. If your friends aren’t into dressing-up (in any way) your party can be a casual informal affair, but there’s something about cocktails that cries out for a little glamour or style.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

And what could be more stylish than a black and white themed Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Think men in tuxedos and women in little black dresses. Play it straight – or go a little bit over the top with big diamonds, cigarette holders, monocles and long gloves.

And decorate your home to match with white cloths on tables, shiny silverware, sparkling glasses – and black roses! Set the scene for romance with low candle-light, and black and white table decorations.

Chic food. Sophisticated but simple. Classy but not tacky. The same goes for the cocktails. For music, think smoky nightclub and old movies. Sinatra, Basie, Ella, Peggy Lee. Suave and sexy.

James Bond

Or go for a Bond theme. Plenty of music to choose from, as well as stylish dress – although be prepared for one of your guests to choose to come as Ursula Andress emerging from the sea in Dr No! Or Blofeld complete with white cat.

Use posters and images from the films to decorate your walls; have soft lighting to set the romantic scene. The food has to be stylish too, but a little OTT, more Del Boy than Sean Connery. And the drink? Well, it has to be Martini, of course, shaken and not stirred. Maybe a fun fifties party is more your style?

The 50’s

Ask your guests to dress for the era, with the prom queens in wide-skirted dresses and their hair tied back with ribbons, the men in blazers and skinny ties.

Retro kitsch is widely available these days or, for a cheaper alternative, scour your local charity shops for appropriate lamps, decorations, glasses etc. Decorate your walls with Elvis, James Dean or Marilyn posters, old LP covers, diner or garage signs. Get a life-size stand-up of Elvis and take photos of your guests posing with him.

Try and find black or red and white checked cloths for the tables. Fluorescent pink and lime green flourishes add to the 50s feel, as does a string of Chinese lanterns.

In the background, have Frankie Avalon, Bobby Darin, the Platters and, of course, Elvis, on the turntable. You might even like to splash out and hire a jukebox for the event.

Martinis should be on offer along with Manhattans and Grasshoppers, and foodwise, mini-frankfurters on sticks, chicken wings, mini-pizzas and pretzels will all enhance the atmosphere.

Beach Party

We’ve been going downhill steadily in the sophisticate stakes and now we’re finally hitting rock-bottom: a beach party (Hawaiian or Mexican) allows the greatest scope for dressing-up and going a little bit crazy.

You want colours, the brighter and louder the better. For the clothes, the room décor, the table settings and the drinks. Turn your home into Waikiki Beach for the evening – complete with sand or a wall-size beach back-drop. (If you use sand, make it play not builders’, which stains.)

Dress your table in a grass skirt and cover the surface with a floral cloth. Have vases of bright plastic (tacky is good!) flowers everywhere; some inflatable parrots perched on the backs of chairs create good talking points. Cut-out or inflatable palm trees with coconuts piled alongside look great at the entrance to your home or in the main party room.

Ask your guests to come dressed for a tropical beach and greet them with leis or flowers for their hair.

If it’s a summer party, be brave and risk the weather: barbecue food is good for a beach party. Alternatively serve barbecued ribs, buffalo wings, chopped tacos.

Any fruity or coconutty drinks – Pina Colada, Malibu, Sangria – will do their job as will tequila-based cocktails such as Margerita, or appropriately-named cocktails like Sex on the Beach.

Then if Jan and Dean, the Beach Boys and the Drifters don’t get your guests singing along, Brian Hyland’s Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka-dot Bikini certainly will!

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