Tis the season for weekends filled with holiday parties. We’ll be honest. The chance to mingle and enjoy a cocktail with our favorite people, and some we only see once or twice a year, is one of our favorite things about the holiday season. But holiday entertaining comes with a certain level of stress, so we’re here to help out with 7 super simple tips to streamline your party planning.
Serve a Signature Cocktail
It used to be that an open bar with a full selection of spirits and mixers was the hallmark of a great holiday party. That dated trend has passed, and now it’s all about focusing on a great signature cocktail that all of your guests will enjoy.
Cocktail infusion kits are a wonderful way to have a signature cocktail ready for your guests without needing to worry about having a bartender on hand. With these kits, you simply infuse your chosen spirit, then set it aside for a couple of days and let the magic happen. By the time your guests arrive, the only thing that’s left to do is add ice and a garnish.
Of course, you can’t count on every single one of your guests being interested in the signature cocktail, so it doesn’t hurt to also have a selection of beer, wine, and seltzer on hand.
Serve an S-Tier Mocktail, Too
Not everyone at a holiday party is there to indulge in boozy drinks, and this is a good thing! Have a really nice, specially crafted mocktail available so that the non-imbibers can enjoy a fancy drink, too. Our cocktail infusion kits are also great for making mocktails. You can even do a non-alcoholic version to match the flavor of your signature cocktail; just make sure each is clearly marked so there’s no confusion.
Make Cocktail Mixing the Talk of the Party
Nobody likes going to a cocktail party and standing around, hoping someone interesting to chat with will walk through the door. Some of us are natural-born minglers, while the rest of us need a conversation piece to get the ball rolling. Crafting show-stopping cocktails gives everyone an interesting icebreaker.
Set a cocktail station at a focal point in the room, and make sure it’s stocked with everything needed for your favorite smoked cocktail. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could offer a menu with a few smoked cocktails to choose from. Either way, it’s a guarantee eyes will be drawn to the bartender, and everyone will have something to talk about as they sip.
Keep the Food Simple
Here’s the thing about cocktail party food. You want the food to be good, but you don’t want anything fussy that’s going to pull you away from your own party. If it’s in the budget to hire a caterer, then do it! Let someone else handle it. But, if you’re on your own, there are ways to keep holiday appetizers simple and tasty.
First, keep your signature cocktail in mind and offer a light menu of nibbles that complements those flavors. A smokey YYZ Cocktail from the prohibition era (find
the recipe here) deserves a spread with a bit of a retro holiday vibe.
This was the era when platters of hors d'oeuvres featured canapes, shrimp cocktails, deviled eggs, olives, nuts, and little nibbles of celery stuffed with blue cheese. Notice how all of these, while classy, are low on the fuss meter. We’re pretty sure that they weren’t worried about stuffy appetizers during prohibition.
For cocktail and appetizer menus that are both low fuss, choose one of our infused cocktails, like the Citrus Gin Smash. For this, you can keep the appetizers simple and easy with a selection of mini fresh fruit skewers accompanied by an artisanal cheese board. Specialty crackers, cured meats and fresh figs are also nice touches – and low stress.
Ambiance Is All About the Lighting
Don’t stress so much about decorating for your holiday cocktail parties. Instead, make the focus all about lighting. Candles at every turn are an obvious fire hazard, but a room lit by groups of battery-operated candles looks elegant. Fairy lighting or other strung lighting will add a nice glow. The goal is to make the room feel warm and welcoming. Avoid harsh, bright, or flashing lights at all costs.
Choose a Playlist That Suits The Mood
The holiday season means that many of us have social calendars full of parties and gatherings. There are only so many times any of us want to listen to the same overplayed holiday songs during these festive activities. You can make your party memorable by curating a list of holiday music that stands out from the rest.
Maybe go with an old-school retro playlist with prohibition-era holiday music, or go a route that’s a little sexy and sassy. There’s also no rule that says the music must be holiday-themed at all!
Finally, Enjoy Yourself!
Don’t forget that the point of holiday entertaining is to enjoy your guests and this special time of year. Don’t let the stress of holiday planning get to you, and as they say, don’t sweat the small stuff. A good cocktail and good company are all you need for a great holiday party.