Corporate Cocktail Party Ideas

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5 Tips for a Successful Cocktail Party

You’ve been tasked to plan the company’s next cocktail party and haven’t a clue how to go about it. Fear not – follow these simple steps and your boss will be singing your praises.


Are you inviting college recruits to showcase your fabulous firm? Make sure your cocktail party hits the following WOW! factors: 1. A great view 2. Swanky surroundings 3. Out of the ordinary food and cocktails (more about that in a minute)

If the real purpose of the party is to rev-up employee morale, that’s a different party entirely. Take it out of the office. Find a great venue that the staff won’t want to miss. Reserve the bar area of the trendiest new restaurant in town from 4 – 6 and make sure the drinks are free-flowing. This is not the time to limit the bar to beer and wine, when folks may already be belly-aching about how cheap the company is. This is the time to send a LOUD “thanks for your hard work!” and nothing says thanks like a good cocktail, or two, or three. Any by the way, keep the party to two, two and ½ hours max. No one wants to embarrass themselves at a corporate cocktail party and typically two hours isn’t enough time to get wasted.

2. SEND A REAL INVITATION (and a paperless back-up)

Since very few companies do it anymore, your beautiful invite will stand out. Don’t get too theme-y here – keep it classy. It’s worth the extra effort; I promise.


That “Hello My Name Is” tag – lame, lame, lame. Even laminated pre-printed tags are too impersonal. Ask each invitee to list a quirky trait or a favorite movie or an all-time favorite Supreme Court Justice (great for law recruits), and then list the answer under each person’s name on a colorful, artful tag.


If you selected the trendiest restaurant in town, you’ve got built-in ambiance and people-watching. If you are throwing the party in your penthouse conference room with a view, get the corporate feeling down to a minimum with loads of candles, a cool DJ and sexy lounge furniture. Rent some beautiful rugs along with the furniture to take the ambiance to the limit. Also, ask the caterer’s staff to dress the part – instead of the ubiquitous black outfit. Going for a Moroccan look? Have the waiters wear red shirts and fezzes. Striving for a retro-hip vibe? Outfit the staff in suspenders and newsboy caps.


Some ideas we have incorporated in recent cocktail party catering.
Roving oyster shuckers

Corporate Cocktail Party Ideas - 5 tips for your next corporate cocktail party.

Mobile wood-burning pizza
with unusual ingredients: bacon, crème fraiche and caramelized onions or broccoli rabe with Sriracha olive oil and handmade ricotta

Craft cocktails in colorful glasses:
an aquamarine glass for a Mediterranean Blood Orange Bellini, a cobalt blue martini glass that matches the company logo

Inventive cocktail with an “insider joke”:
The “Felix Rohatyn” for an elite investment bank (Mr. Rohatyn is a God among investment bankers – he helped bail out NYC back in the day)

Elaborate dessert spread:
we once created an outrageous Marie Antoinette table laden with gorgeous hand-iced desserts in a pastel palate to reflect the fashion designer’s latest collection

When in doubt—share all of this with your trusted caterer, get them to do all the heavy lifting while you sit back and take all the credit.

Need a professional caterer for your next corporate cocktail party?  Consult with us, call 212.888.2664 or contact us online.







Photo by @maggiemarguerite

Leslie Levin Nilsson, event planner, caterer, educator, Glamour editor, moved to New York from the Midwest with three passions: literature, food and throwing fabulous parties. Bartleby & Sage grew from those passions: early clients were fashion designer Thom Browne, Sarah Jessica and the gals at Sex & The City, rock and roll greats Sting and Gwen Stefani, Over the past 20 years, Leslie and her team have orchestrated thousands of cocktail parties, dinners, and weddings. Her "little black dress" of entertaining? The Venetian cheese toast.

Leslie Nilsson,
Founder & Creative Director
Bartleby & Sage

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