It was a little party to announce how much money had been made on a big party.

"When we receive the money, we would like to present the National Symphony Orchestra with a check," said Barbara Allbritton, chairman of the NSO'S Dec. 5 fund-raising ball, as guests clustered around her yesterday in one room of her house, "for over $183,000."

The group, which included Symphony board members as well as those who had helped put on this year's ball, broke into noisy bravos and applause. "Good work, Barbara," said board member David Lloyd Kreeger.

"We have a friend who offered to help us out," continued Allbritton, "and push the total to $200,000." More applause. No mention of the name of this friend.

Allbritton says the total is a record for the annual ball. Last year's function raised $110,000, and the previous high amount was $193,000.

"Now that's what I call beating the bushes," said one guest between sips of wine commenting on the success of the ball, which had been attended by 1,260.

"Calling in your chits," commented NSO board member Scooter Miller.

But beyond the announcement and the congratulations, there was little talk at the cocktail party of the latest Symphony news -- Tuesday's announcement of NSO president Martin Feinstein's intention to resign next month.

Asked if she was surprised by that announcement, one guest replied, "Not particularly," and wafted away into the crowd.

The financially troubled Symphony has just received a $1 million federal grant from Congress which must be matched with $1 million of private funds. "We've got most of it matched," said Miller, who said that at least $700,000 had been raised. The ball proceeds will go toward matching the grant further.

And this close to January, the inauguration is on people's minds. There was talk of which parties would be attended by whom and who was working on the inaugural committee to plan them.

"I think Reagan will be very supportive of the arts," said Don Campbell, sporting a little gold Reagan-Bush pin.

"Reagan's not going to give one penny to the arts," scoffed a self-admitted Democrat.