Party Stress Free this Holiday Season
Just when barbecue season ends, dinner party season rears its charming, stressful head. Along with the changing leaves, Hallowe’en candy, and back-to-school shopping comes the desire to drink with friends while wearing a sweater. It also calls in some of the best eating holidays of the year: Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course, hosting is not without its stressors. Especially when you fancy yourself a good host/ess. Rather than scour the internet for seasonal entertaining trends, we’d like to present a few tried-and-true tips for having friends over.
What to drink
Drinks are amongst the entertaining trends that will never die. Even though you’re keen to impress your friends with your mixology skills and your excellent liquor collection, doing so will chain you to your kitchen. Upon mixing the 13th drink, you’ll be getting resentful of your loud, thankless, cocktail-guzzling guests. Instead, set up a foolproof drink station that compliments the easy feeling you’re going for, but also offers variety. Might we suggest…
Spritzes > cocktails
Super variable, low-alcohol, refreshing, and a great way to use up all that Lillet you bought for your famous “Corpse Revivers” (way too intensive [and alcoholic!] for a chill night in). Spritzes aren’t exactly an entertaining trend, but we can see them gaining traction.
To make, set up a bar station with a selection of aperitifs (Aperol, Campari, Lillet, Suze, etc), some sliced citrus, ice, and bottles of sparkling water. The ratio is roughly ⅓ aperitif to ⅔ bubbly water. Have your guests get their own damn drinks while you recline on the cushy Gaba sofa and compete in a fraught game of Monopoly.
The perennial dinner party favorite. Wine doesn’t just make food taste better: it’s sophisticated. This is less an entertaining trend that it is an entertaining It’s also a common hostess gift. If you’re intense about wine and like it to match your menu, buy your own selection and graciously accept hostess gifts to drink another day. If you’re not that intense and your guests ask what they can bring, feel free to direct them towards your preferred grape varietal. Of course, if you’re not intense at all, simply set out a selection and let your guests be free.
You can pair this with the spritz option if you like. Especially if you — like this writer — have a large selection of homemade wine leftover from your wedding that’s not great alone but is pretty great in a spritz. Imagine clinking glasses while wearing chic Merino, gathered casually around your rough-but-pretty long table (perhaps the Atica?), while something delicious and low-maintenance bubbles away in the kitchen. Worried about spills? Fear not: there’s a guide for that.
Homemade Martini Bar
Hello, holiday party. What drink goes best with your sparkly holiday outfit, your velvet tufted ottoman, your beautifully appointed wooden bar? The classic Martini. Pre-batch six cups your favorite martini recipe, but add in 1 cup of icy-cold water to account for the ice that melts in during individual mixing — that way you’re not just drinking a cup of straight booze. Whisk aggressively and pour into a pitcher. Supply fancy (but small) glasses, an assortment of fun garnishes like olives and cocktail onions, and a bucket of ice. Be warned: batched martinis are low-maintenance and high alcohol.
Even if you’re a killer chef, the last thing you want to be doing when you have your friends over is feverishly whisking something temperamental and time-sensitive. Instead, focus on serving foods that are…
Think roasts, braises, rice pilafs, hearty chopped salads… anything that you can throw in the oven or make a few hours ahead without any danger of it getting cold or wilting away. Yes yes, we know that magazines are out here reporting on how terrines and mousses are the hot entertaining trends in food for 2019. But picture this: when the buzzer dings you can lay all the hot food out on the counter and invite your guests to grab a plate and serve themselves. Whether you’re settling down around an extendable table, or grabbing a seat at the bar, the food will be hearty, delicious, and simple.
We’re talking chilli, lasagne, congee. A one-pot meal communicates that we’re all going to chill out and probably watch a movie. If you trust your pals, cozy up on your sofa (modular sofas are best for guests, but if you’re short on seating, the versatile pouf is a hosts’ best friend) with bowls in hand for a low-key high-carb viewing experience.
Sometimes being the hostess-with-the-mostess means ordering pizza and electing for a dipping-sauce buffet. Instagram it and make the hashtag “entertaining trends 2019,” because you’re funny and irreverent!
Set the Mood
Ambience is the difference between a cold white room and an avant garde event space. Things like lighting, playlists, preparation, and even some stylish props contribute to how your guests will feel in your space. When getting ready to host some friends, prep your reception areas with a light tidy, and consider what kind of gathering you’re planning to host. Games night? Stack some of your favorite games on the coffee table. An hours-long feast? Give your table some love by way of flowers or cute placemats. Don’t worry about theming your party to try and make it adhere to some magazine’s list of entertaining trends. Instead, draw attention to the space you want your guests to congregate by giving it a little TLC. And finally, a party can’t party without…
Low lighting helps create a relaxed and intimate environment, but if you’re not ready to invest in a dimmer, simply alternate which lights are on and light a few candles.
A stellar playlist.
Music sets the mood. If you’re going for more of a high-energy situation, start with Mo-Town favs before moving into contemporary pop and hip-hop. If you’re the dancing type, invest in sofas with a light profile that can be easily moved against the walls, such as the Triplo sofa.
Need it to be family-friendly? Movie soundtracks (think The Big Chill, not Moana) are both nostalgic and easy to select. If your guests have little ones that might need a surprise nap, consider a sleeper-sofa.
Finally, going for something soothing and quiet? Contemporary piano, such as compositions by Chilly Gonzalez, is peaceful without being sleepy. Perfect when paired with stately-but-relaxed options like the Divan sectional.
Fall and winter partying is different than those lazy summer days: if you can forgo the urge to make your party Pinterest-perfect, we think fall entertaining can be both relaxing and energizing. So whip up a spritz and send a group text: you’re hosting games night this week.