Three Ways to Simplify Party Hosting

If you are planning a holiday party, you are probably so busy right now that you barely have time to read this, so I will get right to the point:  If you think you will have time to mix cocktails for your guests, you probably won’t.  Bring out that perfect chilled or heated dessert at just the right time?  Doubtful.  Hover around the food table so you can let your guests with dietary restrictions know which foods are safe to eat?  Not likely.

Even if you did somehow manage to get across the room, mix that cocktail and bring it to your guest before he or she dies of thirst, it would come at a very high price:  Missing out on visiting with all the other guests you pass along the way.

I have learned the hard way that it’s no good to flit around nervously at your own party, trying to do a million things at once. Your guests will enjoy the party more if you are relaxed and have time to chat. And so will you.

So here are a few simple suggestions to help make that happen.

1.  A DIY Cocktail Station

Since I do not have the first clue about how to mix a cocktail, this task lands squarely on the capable shoulders of my husband, Chris. But he doesn’t want to be anchored to a bar all night.  So he sets up a little DIY cocktail station so guests can help themselves.

This is the simple countertop station that he recently set up.

Party Hosting Tips - DIY Liquor Station

You could definitely have some fun with this idea and set up a more elaborate station.  Shakers, mixers, garnishes, and glasses should all be available for guests to help themselves.

Sometimes if Chris knows that several guests will want the same drink, he might pre-mix a pitcher of just one type of cocktail.  But even so some guests want to mix their own drinks a specific way.

Of course for this to work, you have to be able to trust your guests to know their limits or have a safe ride home.

2.  A Cookie Table

Chilled or heated desserts can be tricky for a party, especially an open house where folks are dropping by at different times. The most practical dessert would be something that can sit for several hours at room temperature – namely cookies.

Many people, myself included, shy away from foods that are difficult to eat while standing and mingling.  But cookies are easy and portable – no fork or plate is needed.

For a cookie table to be interesting, the cookies should be beautiful, tasty, and small. Small cookies mean that folks can sample a variety without feeling guilty.

My mom, Erika, makes wonderful cookies using old world recipes.

cookie table - party hosting tips

Whenever she volunteers cookies for my parties, I jump at the opportunity.

cookie table - party hosting tips

It spares my guests from my own baking efforts, which are marginal at best.  Add a bowl of nuts and some chocolate and you’re good.

We all know someone who loves to bake, so if you don’t have time to bake or don’t enjoy it, seek that person out to bake cookies for your party.

3.  Food Tags for Guests with Dietary Restrictions

Guests don’t always want their dietary restrictions to be a topic of conversation at parties.  So instead of pointing out which foods your friend with a dietary restriction can eat, make little tags and signs to place near the food.

For example, a few gluten-free appetizers can be grouped on one platter with a simple “GF” sign placed in the middle.

Party Hosting tips - Gluten Free Tray

For this sign, I used a wooden stir stick as the little signpost and a flower frog to anchor the sign.

Party Hosting tips - Gluten-Free Tray

Similar signs can be attached to bowls of gluten-free crackers and chips.

No more worries, and no more having to scream “Don’t eat that!” from across the room.

4.  Now Enjoy the Party

My suggestions do require a little planning and work in advance, but that will pay off later when you are able to relax and enjoy the party.

Happy Holidays Dear Readers!

This will be my last post before the new year, so I want to take this opportunity to wish all of my dear readers the happiest of holidays. We will meet here again in January.

Happy Holidays!


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8 Replies to “Three Ways to Simplify Party Hosting”

    1. Very true, Kimberlee. And I usually forget after a while which dishes actually are GF and which are not, so the tags help me as much as they do my guests.

  1. Merry Christmas to you too Heidi! And happy new year! Loved the post. But the cookie picture didn’t show up. It’s just blank.

    I just checked the checkbox about follow up email. Not sure what that means. Perhaps I’ll see. Happy socializing!

    1. Hi, Jane: I’m hoping that box you checked means you will see this reply. Fingers crossed, let me know if it worked! Anyway, thanks for letting me know about the cookie picture. Maybe the file was too big so I loaded the photo again in a smaller file size.
      Merry Christmas to you too!

    1. Thanks, Heather! The bottle brush trees and church are from the 1950s, things we inherited. I don’t always have space to display them but this year I did.

  2. Your thoughts on simplifying holiday parties are so so timely and excellent advise. Your bottle brush tree and Putz church are so deliciously vintage. Thank you so much for sharing at Vintage Charm. See you next year! Pinning to our Features and Favorites board. sb

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