‘Tis the season to be toasting! We’ve got tips and festive serving ideas for your holiday entertaining needs.
Offering your guests an array of seasonal cocktails and mocktails—or a signature drink for the night—ensures everybody, young and old, can join in the festive fun at your next holiday party. We share some serving and stocking-up tips to help your party go smoothly. Cheers to the holidays!
Festive Serving Ideas
Big-batch drinks make for easier hosting, so you have more time to mingle with guests. Serve cold drinks in a punch bowl, and keep hot drinks warm in a slow cooker.
To keep punch cold, add an ice ring, which will melt more slowly than individual ice cubes. Use a bundt pan or ring mould (silicone works nicely) to freeze water or a blend of juices that will enhance the drink as they melt. Get creative by adding berries, citrus slices, or even fresh flowers or herbs before freezing.
Buy special ice molds to make festive snowflake- or star-shaped ice, or beautiful frozen spheres for chilling cocktails and punches. You can make ice cubes with cranberries or raspberries frozen into their centres, or use frozen berries as a garnish that doubles as ice. You can even freeze fruit juice into flavourful ice cubes that won't water down your drink as they melt.
A sprig of rosemary makes an easy, pretty garnish in citrus drinks—and has the added bonus of looking like a mini Christmas tree. You can also pop jewel-like pomegranate seeds into sparkling drinks.
Hot chocolate—spiked or not—loves a topping of whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder. Candy canes make excellent stir sticks.
Keep cocktail, beer and wine glasses at hand, but don’t worry about perfection—no one will complain about a martini in a champagne flute if that’s all you have. If you can, chill glasses before using to keep drinks colder for longer. The chunkier the mug, the better for hot drinks, though heatproof glass beer steins also make a fun choice to show off what's inside.
Set up a self-serve bar with mugs and glasses, key liquors, and a couple of red and white wines. Leave room here and in the fridge for bottles that guests bring, too.
Pick dark and light beers as well as cider (a good offering for gluten-free guests) and some non-alcoholic options. Soft drinks are best purchased in cans if you’re just using small quantities for individual mixed drinks, as larger bottles lose their fizz faster. To save refrigerator space, keep beer, soda, cider and white wine chilled in an ice-filled cooler.
Organize pre-cut garnishes in clear bowls, with tongs and cocktail picks nearby for transferring them into glasses.
Offer ice in both cubes or chunks (buy bags in bulk) and in a crushed form, so you don’t have guests bashing up a storm mid party. You’ll need to regularly replenish ice; when the weather is cold enough, extras keep well outdoors if freezer space is limited.
The home bar needs basic tools, such as a cocktail shaker, muddler and stirrer. Keep teaspoons or straws on hand for tasting freshly mixed cocktails, so whoever's on cocktail duty can adjust as they see fit. Beer and wine bottle openers are essential, too: have a few of each, as they often go wandering once the party’s in full swing. Make sure there are fresh dishtowels or paper towels available nearby for dealing with spills immediately.
Pin up a selection of basic cocktail recipes near the bar as inspiration, but let your guests go wild with their own imagination.