It's best to let your guests know if you're planning on serving only appetizers at your party. The easiest way to do this is to include a mention on the invitation. You don't want your guests showing up at your party expecting a full meal and leaving hungry. Providing details beforehand will allow guests a chance to plan when to eat a full meal.
The Cocktail Approach
State that you're serving cocktails in your invitation if you're having an adult party. You can begin your invitation by saying, "Join us for cocktails." If you want, you can save the mention of cocktails for the end of the invitation. Write, "Cocktails will be served during the party." Guests will expect cocktails, but you'll also serve light appetizers that can be a pleasant surprise for guests.
The Light Refreshment Approach
If you're not serving alcohol, you still want to make sure that your guests know you're serving something. You can begin your party invitation by writing, "Join us for light refreshments." Alternatively, you may end your invitation by stating, "Light refreshments will be served." Guests will know that you're only serving appetizers and will expect no more.
The Cake and Punch Approach
If you know you're serving cake and punch, state that in the invitation. Guests will expect cake and punch, but will be surprised that you're also serving appetizers. With this scenario, you under-promise and over-deliver. You can begin the invitation by saying, "Come join us for cake and punch to celebrate Alex's 5th birthday!" You can also end the invitation by stating that cake and punch will be served.
The Hors D'oeuvres Approach
Using the term hors d'oeuvres is a fancy and elegant way to mention you'll be serving appetizers at your party. Begin your invitation by saying, "Join us for champagne and hors d'oeuvres." You can also end your invitation by writing, "Hors d'oeuvres will be served after the party." Guests will expect appetizers instead of a full meal.
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