Pulling off a holiday party at home can seem stressful, but it’s made infinitely easier if you remove a few things from the equation. Namely, the dining table and chairs. Oh—and nix the forks and knives.
No, we’re not suggesting people sit on the floor and eat with their hands. Instead, skip the sit-down affair and host a cocktail party with a few key essentials, including the right glassware and serving pieces, so your soiree is headache-free.
Your first step in this party process is to clear some space in your coat closet or designate a spot for guests to put their things (a guest bedroom works here).
“There’s nothing worse than having people drape their jackets over the backs of your sofa and chairs, because it takes away from the beautiful event you’ve set up,” says Roxy Te, CEO and founder of Society Social.
Next up, pull out (or pick up) the following items to outfit your bar and kitchen. Then, plan to serve your party bites on a buffet—a good use for your dining table. This option is more affordable, and it gives you the chance to style a pretty vignette or centerpiece, notes Te.
Make serving guests at your fete easier with these choices—and you’ll have more fun at your own party.
1. All-purpose wine glass
Nope, most of the time, you don’t need red and white wine stemware—and a simple glass like this one ($3, Crate&Barrel) can even hold a mixed drink. “Unless you’re serving champagne, try using one round wine glass as your all-purpose go-to at a cocktail party,” says Andrea Correale of Elegant Affairs Caterers. And a stem-free option is less likely to break when you pop it in the dishwasher.
2. Paper napkins
Cloth napkins are lovely—at Christmas and Easter—but paper is your pal at a casual drinks party.
“I definitely recommend paper napkins for cocktails and small bites, and suggest five per person on average,” says Correale. Pick goofy sayings in bright and cheery colors, and your little stacks will become part of your party decor ($7, Sur La Table).
Everyone wants a Negroni, but mixing them up individually is a pain. Don’t get stuck playing bartender, warns Te.
“Stock up with what you need, and serve the classics or a signature cocktail,” she says.
Making a pitcher of spiked punch ahead saves time and makes pouring a breeze, especially in this gorgeous vessel with dragonflies ($62, Macy’s).
Rather than put out a bunch of small bowls for snacks, choose larger serving pieces for your buffet.
Just be sure to skip heavy stoneware and go for a melamine platter like this one ($25, Williams Sonoma), which comes in four fun colors. And using platters for parties is on trend, says Te.
“I’ve been pulling inspiration from grazing boards, because these bountiful spreads are visually striking, and they allow guests to mingle and encourage seconds and thirds.”
Along with your platters, you’ll want to create height on your buffet—and that’s where cakestands come in ($25, Walmart). By interspersing stands with plates below them, you’ll double your offerings and create visual interest too.
6. 3-tier server
A little tower like this tiered piece ($25, Amazon) is a nice way to serve a tiny sweet at the end of your party. Arrange it ahead of time, and then place it in the middle of your buffet when the savory foods have disappeared.
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