A cocktail party is a party at which cocktails are served, it is usually a largely informal social gathering generally featuring mixed drinks, light refreshments and an intimate guest list.
A cocktail party may include a variety of finger foods, light snacks or even heavy hors d'ouvres, but the primary focus is generally on cocktails, good conversation and music, not on the food. An invitation to an informal cocktail party should mention any special food arrangements, especially if the party is scheduled during regular dinner hours. A good cocktail party host should provide a selection of soft drinks and non-alcoholic versions of popular cocktails to designated drivers and those who choose not to drink alcohol for personal or religious reasons.
A cocktail party is a convenient way to entertain any kind of guests ranging from neighbors to business associates. Women who attend a cocktail party will wear a cocktail dress. A cocktail hat is sometimes worn as a fashion statement. Meeting new people can be much easier under the relaxed atmosphere of a cocktail party, which is why some people prefer the term social mixer to the more direct term cocktail party. An informal private cocktail party may not have the same safety controls in place as a public bar or nightclub, so guests may have to monitor their own alcohol consumption and ability to drive home safely.