With holiday season underway and Christmas around the corner, we wanted to share some tips to host a FABULOUS holiday party. A cocktail party is a fun way to get into the spirit of the holidays.
Spread The Cheer
We recommend going paperless and using online invitations. Evite, Punchbowl and Paperless Post offer a large selection of free and premium designs that are perfect for the holidays. Although Facebook invitations are not customizable, they are easy to create and distribute to your Facebook friends. Decide if your holiday party will be a casual evening or a more formal affair. Include suggested attire on your invitation.
Can I Get A Beverage or Two?
Let’s focus on the drinks next, since this is the most important part of a cocktail party! Keep the drinks simple with beer, wine and a specialty cocktail. Select beers that pair well with the small bites you plan to serve. For wine, serve a mix of white, red, and sparkling (prosecco and cava are great budget friendly champs alternatives). We also LOVE signature cocktails, ideally something easy to prepare ahead of time. Martinis, manhattans and hot apple cider with rum are excellent choices. Plan on two drinks per person during the first hour, then one drink per hour thereafter. Also provide a selection of non-alcoholic beverages. We typically serve one or two cocktails. Sparkling juice, hot or cold apple cider, fruit punch are great choices. Don’t forgot to include a large pitcher of water on the bar! Place the bar at the opposite side from the food to keep people flowing around and fully utilizing the space.
I Need A Bite To Go With My Drink
Next let’s move on to the food! There are a few types of cocktail party food we recommend — pick a few from each category, and remember you’ll need around 12 total bites per person (more if your party is during a mealtime).
We make a lot of the food for our parties. Take it from us though, it’s not easy to fully cater your own party! Make it easy on yourself and add a few store-bought items to the menu.
Skip the overpriced pre-made cheese plates and create your own with:
- 3-5 cheeses (we suggest going to a specialty cheese shop, like Murry’s, Artisanal or Eataly in the city, or your neighborhood farmer’s market)
- Nuts – walnuts and pecans are our favorite
- Fresh & Dried Fruit – you can’t go wrong with grapes, dried cranberries, dried apricots, dried figs
- Jam – we love a fig or berry jam
- Crackers – our favorite are red and white wine crackers from Whole Foods
- Serve on a wooden cutting board with cheese knives
Add some dips to the menu – you can buy these, but we like to make them from scratch. Serve with chips, pita or veggies!
- Spinach Dip
Cook as much as you can in advance to save you valuable time on the day of the party.
- Deviled Eggs
- Crab Cakes
- Mini Tarts / Quiches
Conclude your meal with holiday treats. Mini-desserts are definitely the way to go. We love dessert tables, but if that’s too much effort for you, we suggest at least two to three mini desserts. Think seasonal flavors too! We’ve done a combination of mini cupcakes, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, tart, brownies and specialty candies. Cupcakes, even minis, are easy to shape into holiday decor- think pullout Christmas tree or Santa. Sugar cookies are even easier with holiday cookie cutters.
Day of Schedule:
- Two hours before the party, start chilling white wine and beer, and pull out food that can be served at room temperature out of the fridge.
- 30 minutes before the party, begin to heat the hot foods in a 175 degree F. oven.
- 15 minutes before the party starts, pour yourself a drink, stock the bar with ice and put music on.
If you have room in your budget, hire 1-2 servers/bartenders. Staff makes CLEAN-UP a lot easier. We recommend Barnard Bartending in the city. Follow these holiday tips and you’ll have an unforgettable evening!
Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.
~ Janice Maeditere