Do you know what I used to be really, really good at and I’m not anymore? Stressing over having people over! For years I used to think the house had to look like no one lived there, the food had to be perfect and the atmosphere just right; or no one would have a good time. Until I grew up, matured and realized my real friends were coming over to hang out with me, not judge my hostess abilities (or lack of).
Along with the Holidays, usually comes opening up our homes for more people. I really enjoy going to someone’s house for a party that involves cocktails, light food and relaxation. So, I try to host the kinds of parties I actually like to attend. It makes sense right?! I’ve gotten pretty good (if I do say so myself) over the last few years, of being able to throw together a party at the last minute and ones that involve low stress and are easy.
Here are my tips for hosting an easy, low-stress cocktail party.
How to Host a Cocktail Party – The Easy Way
Although I don’t feel like my house needs to be perfect, I do want it to be presentable. I told my husband the other day there are three major things that when they’re done, I feel like the house is clean and I’m in control: when the bathrooms are wiped down, the kitchen is clean and the floors are vacuumed and swept. Everything else is just icing on the cake! I have getting these things done quickly down to a science. So much so that I am often asked “how in the world did you do that so fast?”
I have a new secret tool to getting the house vacuumed and ‘swept’ quickly. Let me introduce you to my new little friend and companion – the Hoover AIR™ CORDLESS 2-IN-1 STICK & HANDHELD VACUUM.
I swear I feel like half the time I spend vacuuming is messing with the cord! Well no more my friends. I am able to vacuum our living room, vacuum the stairs, ‘sweep’ the kitchen floor, and get all of the cobwebs and corners of dust cleaned up so fast, it’s almost fun. Because there’s no cord, I have the freedom to move about with ease. The handheld vacuum part makes vacuuming the stairs and getting in the corners a breeze. Just charge the interchangeable battery (which just so happens to work with all products in the Hoover cordless line), and it’s ready to get the job done – whether it’s a big job like the entire house or a small one. I used the handheld to vacuum our dining room chairs the other day. Super handy!
I use a pretty heavy duty vacuum, so in all honesty I was skeptical at what this 2-in-1 could accomplish. Not only does the LithiumLife battery last a long time, but the Windtunnel 3 technology provides fantastic suction, giving it great power to lift and remove dirt.
Needless to say, I’m a fan and happy to have this vacuum in my party prep arsenal. Be sure to check out the full line of Hoover Cordless vacuums, which includes three vacuums and a hard floor wet cleaner.
This will save you so much stress it’s not even funny. Put together a list of appetizers you’d like to serve and come up with as many that can be made in advance as possible. This will save you time and energy the day of the party. Some ideas for make-ahead appetizers include stuffed mushrooms with spinach, cheeseball & crackers, shrimp cocktail, onion dip & chips, gingered nuts and pulled pork sliders.
Provide easy to make cocktails at a self-serve bar
Just because you’re the host, doesn’t mean you have to make the drinks. Your guests will actually feel more comfortable if you’re mingling and enjoying the party too. At the beginning of the party, show everyone where they can create their cocktail masterpieces and maybe even make a drink for them then. Then tell them to help themselves the rest of the night.
I love these pictures you can print out and set by the bar. It shows your guests how to make well-known drinks like martinins, mojitos, cosmopolitan and mint julep. Just click on these to enlarge, print and enjoy!
Don’t worry about stocking a full bar
If the above cocktail ideas stress you out, then don’t worry about it! Just serve one signature drink like a fun holiday cocktail and call it a night. Something like sparkling wine and raspberries is easy, looks so festive and taste amazing. I promise you, your guests won’t mind and if they do…get new friends. Hah! 😉
Go low key on the decorations
If your house is already decorated for the holidays, then perfect! There’s no need to do any more decorating. If not, choose one area to decorate such as the table where the horderves will be served. One trick that makes things look a little fancier than they really are is decorating with gold. Spray paint a few pine cones gold for the table, or check your local craft store for gold holiday decor.
Use mix and match servingware
I used to get so frustrated with my lack of matching or pretty servingware. But it really, really doesn’t matter! Serve cheeseball and crackers on a wooden cutting board. If you have white plates you use for everyday, use them! White plates look really nice. Remember grandma’s china you never use? Break it out and use it to serve food on.
Use whatever glasses you have
I have four wine glasses, four margarita glasses, I think a martini glass or two and a bunch of whiskey glasses. I love my friends, but not enough to go buy all matching glasses. Use what you have. (Or heck, buy fancy looking plastic cups – just don’t invite Martha.) For glasses with stems, have little name tags they can put on their drinks to keep everyone’s straight.
Use small plates and colorful napkins
If you have small plates on hand, perfect, use those. If not, maybe pick up a few heavy duty paper ones at the store. Choose festive fun napkins, which will look really classy on the food table.
Play soft music in the background
When people first arrive at a party, sometimes the room can be a little silent and awkward. Especially if everyone doesn’t know each other. Having some soft, festive music playing in the background helps your guests feel more at ease.
Serve coffee at the end
There’s something very comforting and relaxing about finishing the night off with a cup of coffee.
Are you ready to host that cocktail party now? Great! Relax, have fun and celebrate being together with friends. ‘Tis the season of opening our homes and inviting people in.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.