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Welcome to the Cocktail Theme and Idea Guide

Here you will find cocktail themes and cocktail party ideas on how to create the perfect atmosphere.

Something important to remember is that a cocktail party does not have to have a theme – the theme is already “cocktails”. However, a theme does add something special to a party. There are thousands of themes you can choose from.

If you do decide to go with a theme, go all the way. Be creative and unique - from your invitations to the decorations and the food and drinks you serve. Consider your guests. What are their interests and what would make them enjoy it. Think of things like food, drinks, music and entertainment. Think carefully before you make your decisions.

It is usually easier to decorate an indoor than an outdoor cocktail party, so keep this in mind when you think of a venue.

As far as decorations go, balloons, fabric drapes and coloured tablecloths and serviettes can form the base decorations. The party theme will dictate what other decorations you might use. For example, for a Christmas cocktail party you maybe want to decorate the venue with Christmas decorations. Flowers are great to brighten up a venue.

It’s not necessary to go overboard – remember you want to create an atmosphere and this can usually be done with a few well planned bright coloured decorations without being excessive. It is more important that your guests are comfortable, so do not let the theme interfere with this.

The cocktail theme and the decorations go hand in hand. Let’s look at interesting cocktail party themes as well as ideas to decorate the party venue.


Think red and white and snow (if you stay far north). Why not make your invitations on red paper with white text? If you like frills, stick a pair of little silver bells in the corner of the invitation.

Santa cap

If Christmas falls in winter where you are, your party will likely be indoors. This make decorating the venue a bit easier. Use drapes of red and white fabric and red and white balloons. A Christmas tree with gifts under it will create the perfect atmosphere. Decorate the tables with red and white table cloths and use red and white serviettes.

You can even get novelty Santa Clause caps for each guest to put on as they arrive.


Dress like your favorite cocktail for example a Millionaire, Jolly Green Giant or Sex on the beach! Alternatively, make it a “Twenties” theme with your guests dressing up like they did in the 1920’s. The fact that cocktails became very popular in those years because of the Prohibition in the USA, makes this a very appropriate theme.

Combine it with “bring a bottle” or "bring your own ingredients", in other words every guest or pair of guests bring a bottle of spirits and/or the other ingredients representing the base ingredient of “their” cocktail. Alternatively you can ask each guest on his or her invitation to bring a particular ingredient for the cocktails you plan to serve. This helps to avoid 25 bottles of tequila and nothing else arriving, by way of example.

You can decorate the venue with cocktail bar equipment like cocktail shakers and different types of glasses. A good venue for this is off course a cocktail lounge or pub, or your own home.

You can let your guests prepare their own cocktail by providing enough equipment and space for this purpose.

See our Cocktail Party Drinks Guide for more on the drinks you can serve at your cocktail party.


Think James Bond. This obviously a very stylish affair with the gentlemen wearing tuxedos and the ladies evening cocktail dresses. This theme works best after sun set, indoors, in a stylishly decorated venue like a hotel ballroom.

Decorations should be stylish and preferably minimalist. Match silver, black and white and use shiny silverware.


This is a great idea for a wedding if you prefer a slightly toned-down, but still very tasteful, ceremony. A cocktail wedding is generally shorter, less formal and more affordable than a traditional wedding reception.

Plan everything as you would have done with a traditional reception, but make it more informal. Instead of a buffet dinner, the food spread might comprise finger food. And, instead of guest sitting at pre-allocated seats at arranged tables, your guests will mingle around and enjoy exotic drinks.

Your personalized wedding favors will also fit the theme. Popular cocktail wedding favors include a set of coasters, bottle openers or pre-packed cocktail mixes.

Name your theme explicitly on the cocktail party invitation and introduce it by decorating the invite according to the theme. For example, in the case of a Black Tie Cocktail Party, put a picture of a black tie on the invitation. You want your guests to experience the theme from beginning to end.

Whether you choose a theme or not, make sure the atmosphere is relaxing and inviting for your guests. At cocktail parties guests generally stand around and mingle. Make sure the furniture is moved out of the way so that people can move around freely, but you need to have comfortable seating for guests who prefer to sit or take a break to sit and chat.

Most people like the idea of mixing cocktails, but precious few really know how. If you can, borrow a number of cocktail mixers (strangely this is widely owned-seldomly used item) and arrange the rest of the equipment and ingredients on a trolley and take it around to your guests to try their hands at mixology. Make a print out of 5 or 6 simple recipes at a guideline – see our Cocktail Recipes Guide for great ideas.

Soft lighting and music are imperative. Use candles and lava lamps to provide soft light and dim overhead and other lights. Whether you have a live band, DJ or if you use CD’s or an iPod, carefully select enough of the right music before the party – see our Cocktail Party Music Guide for tips on selecting the right music for your party.

Cocktail parties are usually thought of as “adults only”. This does not have to be the case. Provided you have a supply of non-alcoholic beverages, you can have kids at the party as well if you prefer. You can even offer a few non-alcoholic cocktails (or “mocktails”), which will also appeal to adult non-drinkers and drivers.

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