Hosting a cocktail party can be a fun and lucrative way to raise money.

When deciding which type of fundraising event to hold, consider hosting a cocktail party. Cocktail parties are fashionable and fun, and most guests genuinely enjoy a well executed party-for-a-purpose. A successful fundraising cocktail party depends on an engaging blend of drinks, food and atmosphere. But with a little creativity and lot of advanced planning, your event could be the talk of the town and in the running for party of the year.

Start by searching for a low-cost or no-cost venue in which to hold your cocktail party. Be mindful of convenience for your guests and choose a local establishment – restaurants, bars, social halls or even someone’s home or backyard are good spots to consider.

Next, estimate your costs and decide on an amount to charge guests for attending the cocktail party event. Generally, ticket prices can be anywhere from $25 to $250 per person, depending what’s considered economical to your guests, and are intended to cover your expenses and create a donation for your cause.

Choose a theme for your cocktail party. Seasonal themes based on holidays such as Halloween, Christmas, or Mardi Gras always work. A garden party, luau, or barbeque are good Summer choices. Hollywood blockbusters, favorite pieces of literature or decades past are also great sources of inspiration… Get creative and have fun with it!

Style your cocktail party fundraising/ticket sales pages and invitations to reflect your theme. Remember to include the name of the host(s), information about the organization or cause the party is benefiting, as well as the name of the event, location, date, time, RSVP requirements, cost of attendance and additional instructions such as special dress code.

Decide what type of cocktails you will serve; limiting the choices to two to four will make things easier for guests and bartenders. If you have the ability, creating a signature cocktail for the party is also a fun idea. Estimate two drinks per hour for each guest and remember to provide sodas, water and coffee for those who prefer non-alcoholic beverages.

Strive for aesthetic appeal and variety in the arrangement of your food offerings. Depending on your budget and theme, you may choose comestibles that speak of elegance, like caviar, crab cakes and truffles, or trays of simple nibbles and finger foods such as a fruit & cheese platters, chips & dip, nuts and cold cuts. Plan to offer enough for each guest to eat six bites per hour.

Decorate your cocktail party venue in keeping with your theme. Candles provide a suitable backdrop for relaxing and mingling, while colorful dinnerware, chair covers, tablecloths and centerpieces set a festive tone.