Thursday, December 15, 2016

Three Tips for Throwing a Stress-Free Party (with bonus tips and easy recipes!)

Tony and I throw several parties throughout the year - birthday parties for the girls, backyard barbecues and more. But one of our very favorites is our annual Adults-Only Christmas Cocktail party. After throwing this big bash for several years there a few things I've learned along the way to keep it fun, and stress-free and today I'm going to share them with you!

1. Make one or two big batch mixed cocktails, and let guests serve themselves. While it's fun to play bartender when you're hosting just a few other couples, it can take up ALL of your time when you're hosting a much larger party, leaving you with little to no time to hang out with your guests. My cinnamon apple sangria is one of my go-to's, and so incredibly simple. (Seriously - just combine one bottle of apple cider, one bottle Pinot Grigio and two cups of vodka. I like the cinnamon sugar vodka, but we've made it with caramel vodka, and plain and they all taste great. Let the ingredients sit together in the fridge for a few hours and you're set. Add some cinnamon sticks and sliced apples to be extra festive)

I also tripled the recipe of Jingle Juice, which was a HUGE hit, but be careful - it sneaks up on you!

 Let your guests know there are other options (including non-alcoholic ones!) available. Make sure to have a bottle opener or two nearby, as well.

2. Chinet® !!! I am all about the disposable dishes, glasses and cutlery for any party, but especially a big one like this. We always use Chinet®  because not only is it beautiful, but it is extremely durable. For adult parties we like to stick to the Chinet® Cut Crystal® line, because it's classy (I especialy love the stemless wine glasses) and there is a full line of coordinating products. Serving and cleaning is a breeze, leaving you more time to spend with your guests! (BIG thank you to Chinet®  for sending us product to use at our party!)

Keep Sharpies near all of your drink stations. That way your guests can write their name on their glass, and easily find it.

3. Keep food simple, and when a guest offers to bring something take them up on it! I am known for my cheese boards. I love doing them, and I always offer to bring one whenever we are heading to a party. For our big Christmas Cocktail Party I make a HUGE cheese board (the board is actually a really big pizza board from Pottery Barn, similar to this one.) Make sure to include a variety of soft and hard cheeses, some meat (salami is always a crowd pleaser) and fill in any blank spots with some fruit, like dried cranberries or grapes.

Who doesn't love a photo-op? Get some cheapie props (I found them at Homegoods, there are also tons available on Amazon), create a super simple background by taping streamers up, and twisting them, and put out some Instax cameras

It's a fun, little activity and your friends will go home with a mini souvenir!

Red Wine Brownies! This isn't so much a recipe, as much as it is a hack. Get a box of brownie mix (I used Ghiradelli dark chocolate brownie mix) and replace the water is calls for with wine. (I used an open Cabernet Sauvignon and it was delicious!) Bake according to the instructions on the back. The cab played really well off of the dark chocolate, and I will definitely be making them again.

These tips and tricks are especially helpful for a large party, but can be applied to a gathering of any size! Do you have any party tips? Let us know!

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