Nothing goes together quite as perfectly as Chick Lit and cocktails! So, to celebrate the launch of Isabelle Andover’s fabulous debut, Cocktails at Le Carmen, we are throwing a virtual cocktail party! Thanks for coming!
I’ve always loved hosting cocktails parties, whether in my home or at a restaurant, bar, or hotel. And I’ve learned a few key things to pulling them off without a hitch:
- Send paper invitations one month before the event – yes, paper! It’s easy for folks to forget about an email invitation, but a pretty paper invitation will get tacked up to the fridge, constantly reminding them of the future festivities.
- Send email invitations three weeks before the event – use an email invitation service like Evite to make a pretty invitation that reminds your guests of the event and also gives them the opportunity to RSVP.
- Once you know how many guests to expect, it’s time to plan the menu for your cocktail party. This is one of my favorite parts. And if you’re holding it at a restaurant, bar, or hotel, it’s also one of the easiest – just pick from the venue’s offerings! But if you’re like me and like to host at home, this is where you get to show off your culinary talents (or your vast knowledge of the best bakeries and caterers in the city). My advice is to choose a minimum of three savory appetizers such as stuffed mushroom caps, baby quiches, and assorted cheeses. Then, add in at least two bite-sized desserts like mini cheesecakes or get fancy and make (or buy from a local bakery!) mini fruit tarts that are not only delicious but beautiful.
- About a week before the event, it’s time to pick out your party dress. I believe every girl should have at least three cocktail dresses in her closet at all times, but a party is always a good excuse to buy a new one. But if you’re on a budget, head over to a thrift store in the ritziest neighborhood and do some treasure hunting. You never know what you might find. Rich people donate their clothes all the time to make room for new ones. You could score a vintage Valentino or hip Halston for a steal!
- What girl doesn’t love a reason to buy new shoes? But before you slap down your credit card for a brand new pair of four-inch stilettos, know your venue. Will you be dancing? Standing around mingling? Sitting on big plush couches? Consider this before buying and your feet will thank you at the end of the night!
- Cocktails! This is the whole point, right? Again, if you’re hosting at a bar or restaurant, this is easy-peasy. But if you’re doing it yourself, it can still be easy. My favorite cocktail is champagne. I know it isn’t technically a cocktail, but no one will complain about being offered a glass of champagne. Or if you have some ambition, pick up a cocktail recipe book and try your hand at creating some fun libations. Maybe invest in a martini mix set or haul out the blender and whip up some daiquiris. Whatever you do, make sure you have fun doing it.
- The morning of: take a yoga class, go for a hike, ride your bike, or sit down with a good book (Cocktails at Le Carmen, perhaps!) and relax. You’ll want to feel rested and refreshed before the harried countdown in the kitchen while you’re plating up appetizers and crushing ice for the frozen drinks.
- Recruit a co-host. We all have that one super close girlfriend who always offers to come early and help you set up. Take her up on that offer and put her to work! You’ll return the favor when she hosts.
- Don’t panic. So, it’s 7:30 and your party started at 7:00. No worries. People (at least in Los Angeles) are always fashionably late. Like two hours late. I don’t even turn on the oven to warm my appetizers until an hour after the official party time. People will start arriving while you’re setting out the hors d’oeuvres. It will be fine.
- Play the host! A good host will introduce her guests to one another, facilitate conversation, and get the party rolling, putting her guests at ease. I’ve hosted cocktails parties where I only knew one guest (it was a party I hosted for a friend) and I still managed to spark small talk into fun dialogue just by asking simple questions like, “How do you know Julie?” “Did you grow up in LA?” “What’s the weirdest piece of advice you’ve ever been given?” That last one can really get the conversation flowing. So, you get the idea. Don’t let anyone be a wallflower at your party. Get everyone talking, dancing, and having fun.
What’s your top tip for hosting a cocktail party? Any horror stories? Parties gone bad? Have the cops ever shut your fiesta down? Tell me about it in the comments!
Cocktails at Le Carmen
When job cuts at Chloe Saddler’s London communications firm result in an unexpected transfer to Paris, she finds herself leaving behind her friends, family, and boyfriend Scott to start a new life in the City of Light. Getting to grips with La Vie Parisienne and keeping a long-distance relationship afloat is not made any easier by the culture shock. Committing the odd French faux pas and inadvertently indulging in a few too many flirtations with her very sexy (and very taken) boss, Jean-Luc, is just the start of it. Factor in her bridezilla of a sister’s wedding (the hottest event of the year in the Saddler family’s social calendar), an unexpected session of hot, naked yoga, a slightly psychotic stalker, and one incredible kiss at an infamous Montmartre nightspot, and Chloe can say au revoir to her old, safe London life and bonjour to the romance, splendour, and glamour of Paris.
A delightful debut that harks back to the early days of Chick Lit when heroines were flawed, funny, and forever battling for love and happiness. With quirky characters and classic comedic charm, Cocktails at Le Carmen is pure fun from page one.
Originally from England, Isabelle Andover moved to France after graduating from Durham University with a degree in Modern Languages. She lives in Paris with her tabby cat Oscar, who occasionally blogs about apartment-style living in the City of Light, and who also inspired a prize-winning short story when he was a kitten.
Following several years as a media analyst, Isabelle now works at a Paris-based media company specialized in the international beauty market. In addition to fully embracing the culture of her adopted country by way of consuming plenty of French wine and cheese, Isabelle can also be found indulging in the typically British pursuits of shopping at Marks and Spencer on the Champs Elysées and drinking copious cups of Earl Grey. You can learn more about Isabelle by visiting her website.