Everything you need to host a fabulous fête, including canapés and planning tips

As an event planner, cocktail parties are my favorite get-togethers to host. They're easy to plan and glamorous yet relatively inexpensive—you can serve high-quality canapés and still have some money left over because you'll only be serving small bites. Plus, since you'll be making several different types of canapés, there's plenty of choice for your guests.

When planning your party, it helps to choose a theme. This doesn't mean all your guests have to show up dressed like pirates or their favorite movie stars—a theme can be discreet, such as a flavour or colour that is present throughout the entire evening. A creative theme can make your party feel special without adding to your budget, and it will help you come up with ideas for drinks, and decorations.

The key to any great party is for the host to have as much fun as the guests. This guide will make the experience easy and stress-free: It covers all the planning, from selecting a menu and setting up the bar to decorating your space and renting extra glassware.

If you're throwing a cocktail party outside of typical meal hours, five or six types of canapé will be sufficient. Plan on each guests eating one or two of each kind.

If your cocktail party takes place during meal hours, your guests will be hungry and there should be enough food to constitute a meal. Buy eight to ten types of canapés and plan on each guest eating two to three of each.

Also, younger men tend to eat more than women and seniors, so if you have lots of ties on your guest list, add a few extra canapés!