With the holiday hosting season knocking at the door, break from the mold of the traditional gathering with a more modern way to entertain.
Throwing a cocktail party, complete with variations of classic holiday recipes, and taking advantage of the relaxed, come-and-go atmosphere is an easy way to make countless holiday memories without spending days in the kitchen to prepare.
Jessica Sturdy, lifestyle expert and the blogger behind Bows & Sequins, shares these tips for making your seasonal soiree one to remember:
* Signature Sips – Creating a custom cocktail is an easy way to add something festive and personalized to toast your guests, which can include traditional holiday flavors like cranberry, peppermint, cinnamon, fig or champagne. Prepare a few pitchers beforehand so guests can pour themselves, leaving you time to enjoy your company. If time permits, type up a drink recipe card and place the print out in a fun frame to include at the bar.
* Please All Palates – Keep all appetites happy with a charcuterie board by gathering an assortment of your favorite cheeses – perhaps cheeses from around the world or locally. Mix with an array of meats, crackers and mustards which pair nicely with something more acidic, like dried fruit, pickles or olives. Smoked over real hardwoods, Johnsonville summer sausages are a delicious choice to help anchor the platter. Display on a tray with character – even an old mirror – to make even the most basic meat and cheese display festive and amp up your serving platter with natural materials, such as herbs or festive holly.
* Capture the Moment – Invest in an old-school instant film camera to create your own throwback photo booth. The quickly developed photos will make for great parting gifts. You can make cute signs that include holiday slogans with a little cardboard paper, glitter and sticks that your guests can use as easy DIY props, and a simple holiday wall banner or sparkly wall tinsel will create the perfect backdrop. You can also purchase disposable cameras to leave around the party to capture all of the fun moments you may have missed playing host. It’s a fun surprise to develop them after the party.
* Leave the Cold at the Door – Make your guests feel at home by lighting a fire and positioning some holiday scented candles throughout your space. Just be sure to keep the candles away from the food so as to not sour the taste or smell of your hors d’oeuvres. Create a playlist that sets the mood you want your party to embody; from festive Christmas carols to classic jazz to this year’s top 50 countdown, your music will set the pace and make your guests feel welcome.
* Expect the Unexpected – The key to a happy host is a stress-free host. Be sure to leave yourself with plenty of prep time, have your house cleaned and the bar cart stocked with plenty of clean glasses the day before your event. Purchase backup food items that can easily be passed around during the party without the extra prep time, such as nuts, popcorn, pretzels and peppermint bark, and don’t forget that you can never have too much ice.
For holiday food and drink recipes to make your party festive and fun, visit Johnsonville.com.