Hosting your own happy hour is one way to welcome people in your home without having to be overwhelmed and burdened with preparing an entire dinner for everyone. Also, it should go without saying, but the drinks are really what makes a party fun! But perhaps we're a little biased!
As the happy hour pros, we came up with a few tips on having the ultimate get together! Don't forget to take notes!
Send Out Your Invites
Maybe you haven't been thinking about your holiday happy hour all year long, but we can assure you that some people have! Not to name names, but we're pretty confident that the world's accountants have their lives planned out to the very last detail, which includes the time and date of their happy hours for the years to come.
We suggest that the moment you have the inspiration to throw a happy hour party during the holiday season to start coming up with a list of people to invite and get your invitations to them ASAP. During the holidays, friends and family find themselves with a myriad of commitments ranging from their children's holiday singalong, their weird cousin's New Year's party they're obligated to attend, to their dreaded work's holiday party. Even the weekdays fill up pretty fast. (Pssst: here are some tips to ACE your holiday party) If you want the important people in your life to attend, be the first to request their presence for some holiday cheer.
Deciding who to invite can also be a challenging task. If you're hoping to throw a rather large party, keep in mind the size of your house and how many people can comfortably schmooze inside. When making the invite list, we're sure you have many different social circles you find yourself involved with. Party experts, such as ourselves, recommend only inviting people who will know and like at least two other guests at the party. Why? Because you don't want any of your guests pretending, they're texting other people in the corner awkwardly because they have nobody to talk to! That is no fun for everyone! Ensure you have a cohesive group of people that will make your party enjoyable and fun for all that receive your magical invite!
Plan Your Menu
Because you are throwing a cocktail party, appetizers are the way to go! As such, make sure your food is grazable! Dips, cheeses in all forms from cheddar cheese to mozzarella, fondue, and easy to grab and go meats are perfect! Garnish your trays with a little holiday flair and it'll basically look like your house is a fancy bistro. Pass on the foods that will make your guests feel awkward eating (so we're thinking skip the tacos) or that require all utensils.
The most important part of your menu is to make sure that it's easy for you to prepare. Do as much as you possibly can before the day of the party. If you can prepare the hors d’oeuvres, do it. If the most you can do is cut, gather, measure, so that your ingredients are all ready, do that! Whatever you can do to prevent an emergency trip to the market moments before the party begins should be done!
Keep in mind that the more people drink, the hungrier your guests become! Stock up on all of the crackers, nuts, and cheese boards you can so when the hot food is devoured, there are options for you to pull out and share! The perfect cure for the drunkies is salty, delicious foods!
Deciding where to serve your food is as important as choosing what food to serve. Remember, humans are animals: they naturally gather around where the food is placed. If you want your guests to be social, place food in different locations, essentially forcing them to move about and mingle more!
Choose The Drinks
It's a holiday cocktail party, so we're guessing you're going to want to make festive drinks! Don't get carried away. Yes, festive fun drink specials are fun, but you're not a bar! Stick to one or two specialty drinks and fill in the rest of the alcoholic beverages with wine and draft beer. Good news, in addition to being fantastic hosts, we also happen to be specialty cocktail experts. So much so, we already have a blog filled with our favorite holiday drinks!
While we're on the discussion of holiday cocktails, here's an easy way to make festive drinks: make large batch cocktails. Cocktails you can make in large quantities and ahead of time make your life as a host so much easier. Not only do you free yourself of playing bartender all night long, but you also get a task done before your soiree even begins! Drinks like sangria, mimosas, and even margaritas are always guaranteed a hit, and good news, they are definitely drinks you can make in large batches. As experts of cocktails, you bet we also have a blog dedicated to large batch cocktails you can make!
Although cocktail parties are intended to drink cocktails, some people have decided not to drink, and we should respect that. When you've decided to not drink for personal reasons or are perhaps doing a sober month, there is nothing worse than being around someone chastising your decision! Make those who have made this decision feel welcome with a few fun drinks they can also enjoy. This is also a great idea because it gives people an option to sober up for a ride home!
And while we're on the discussion of drinks, we feel this is our opportunity to give our company a little plug and share that Bev is ALWAYS an option. At only three carbs, 160 calories per can, and nothing added, we're a crisp, fizzy drink that can fit into anyone's diet! Oh yeah, and we're ZERO sugar. We'll give you a moment to let that sink in! We also come in three different varieties, Bev Gris, Bev Pinot Grigio, and Bev Rose; they all have their personalities that are fun and flirty!
Include A Fun, Seasonal Dessert
What's a party without a fun dessert? For starters, it's a party we don't want to attend! If you're not a huge baker, perhaps this is a task you can pass off to one of your friends. Remember, you're already incredibly generous by being the host of the party. Let your friends help you out where they can!
As with the food, keep your desserts bite size. Petite portions are great for several reasons. First, most guests don't want to be weighed down; attempting to consume a massive piece of pie will also socialize and likely stand. Second, miniature desserts are exquisite. There is something about bite-sized anything that looks a little fancier. Lastly, bite-sized desserts can be enjoyed with a glass of wine or cocktail in hand.
Need some inspiration? Great, we're always craving sugar! Think macarons, wonton cups, tartlets, shooters, push pops, cookies....okay, we're going to stop while we're ahead.
Be Strategic With Seating
Seating is an absolute must for any event, especially if you think it will go for a few hours. For a cocktail party, many suggest having enough seats for 50% of your guests. At some point during the evening, everyone will want to sit down. If there is any less than 50%, people will start scrambling, and any more will look like you miscounted.
Remember To Have Fun
Even though we put together a list of ways to make your planning life a little less stressful, we know that hosting a cocktail party will still be somewhat stressful. Make sure you take care of yourself before, during, and after the night! An overtired, stressed host isn't one that is going to enjoy him or herself! Take a nap, watch your favorite show, or take a bubble bath. Take an hour or two to take care of yourself!
While planning and hosting, remember that you decided to throw a party because you wanted your guests to enjoy themselves. Don't let your stress overshadow the fun, and remember that you're there to host AND have a good time!
Lastly, you put a lot of work into hosting and planning this party. Take photos so you can remember how amazing you are and what a great friend. The night is meant to be a memorable experience, so even though the night will fly by, you'll have the pictures always to remember it!