Holiday Cocktail Party Gift Guide for First-Time Hosts


By Jay Croft

Hosting a holiday cocktail party always seemed like such a great idea, didn’t it? But also somehow unobtainably . . . adult.

Remember when you were a kid? Having a party meant inviting the whole block over for cake and ice cream. In college, it meant a keg of beer, some pizza, and a bag of chips. But now you’ve gotten to a place in life where you want to step it up a notch.

These holiday cocktail party planning and shopping tips will help you entertain like a real grownup this season, even if you have no idea where to start:

The Invitations
Pick a date that gives your guests three to four weeks’ notice, then decide how you want to let everybody know. Emails and calls are fine and have their advantages, so it’s up to you—but, especially during this time of year, a tangible invitation can make your event stand out.

Sending a physical invitation shows that you care enough to send a more intimate communication, and guests can put it somewhere handy (like the refrigerator door) as a reminder. Shutterfly offers a Festive Cocktail Holiday Invitation that you can order online and personalize with all of your event’s relevant information.

The Food
Hold off on a fancy theme your first time out. One of the best shopping tips for inexperienced hosts is to simply stick with a savory, reliable favorite—such as a meat and cheese platter like the Goat, Ewephoria Gouda and Olli Chorizo Board from Coach Farm, available through FreshDirect. Ordering online makes it one less thing to worry about while facing holiday crowds.

However, if you’re feeling more adventurous in the kitchen, Martha Stewart has recipes for appetizers you can make yourself. Preparing your own food is a lovely touch, but don’t over-extend yourself. Consider your friends (preferences, dietary restrictions, etc.) and the mood you want to set for the event, but don’t set yourself up with more prep and presentation than you can handle.

The Bar
Crate and Barrel strikes the right balance between classic and whimsical with its home essentials, and it’s a great resource when you’re planning a holiday cocktail party. The seasonal Red Stem Martini Glass is what you want for your house cocktail (vs. the big, red plastic cups of yesteryear).

Be sure to have more than enough wine glasses (at least one each for red, white, and champagne) on hand, as well as tumblers for mixed drinks. Set up the bar as self-serve with ice, garnishments, and cocktail napkins—or better yet, consider hiring a bartender so you’ll all be free to enjoy the party.

The Music
Make your own playlists or use streaming services to add a soundtrack to your gathering. You could go for the classic elegance of Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, celebrate the season with Motown Christmas music, or go even more contemporary.

The best way to play these tunes is through a high-quality sound system, like the SoundTouch 10 Wireless & Bluetooth Music System by Bose, which works wirelessly with your home Wi-Fi network and Bluetooth devices. The endless playlist options, combined with the rich tones that Bose devices are known for producing, will help you flood every room of your home with seasonal sounds—and ensure everyone in attendance gets into the holiday spirit this year.

Crate and Barrel has everything you need for a holiday cocktail party, from extra glasses to table runners and more. Click here to scope out its selection!


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