Hostess Tips for Holiday Party Planning!

November 17th, 2014 · 6 Comments

Kahlua 7.Final
The holidays are a wonderful time to catch up with family and friends, and one of the best ways to get into the spirit of the season is to throw a holiday party!  Even if you don’t host friends regularly year-round, everyone’s inner host or hostess comes out as the holidays roll around.  But the trick for entertaining with a smile is to keep things festive but still relaxed — so I’ve pulled together a few of my favorite tips for holiday hostessing!

Set the Tone with a Festive Theme

Holiday parties come in all shapes and sizes: from a fancy catered office party to having a few girls over at home.  If cocktail parties are your thing, go right ahead, but also consider some outside-the-box that your friends will enjoy: anything from a cookie-decorating party, a tree-trimming bash, or a girls night in with your favorite holiday movies. 

Think Beyond Saturday Night

Inevitably, everyone wants to throw their holiday party on the same Saturday night: before everyone goes out of town, but after everyone gets into the feel of the season.  Unfortunately, that means that people get booked for those prime holiday weekends way in advance, and your guests will likely be party-hopping all night.  My solution?  Pick an “off” night — a Thursday or Friday evening or even a Sunday afternoon — to avoid fighting for prime holiday hours and ensure all your friends can be in attendance!

Serve a Signature Beverage

Sure, you can serve wine and beer and call it day… but this is a holiday party, so why not try something a little more creative?  One way to enjoy festive drinks (but not turn yourself into a one-woman bartender all night) is to pick one signature beverage and do the prep work ahead of time.  If you’re serving, say, mulled cider with cinnamon sticks and a splash of Kahlúa (and now that I’ve mentioned it, gosh, doesn’t that sound like the perfect thing to serve?), you can prep it a day in advance and then just warm it up before your guests arrive. 

Get a Helping Hand

And on that note: if you’re having more than, say, twenty people, consider getting a little help.  A helping hand can go a long way, whether it’s some prepared food that you pick up before the party, a bartender to make sure everyone’s glass is full throughout the night, or hiring a cleaning service to swing by the next morning. 

When the Doorbell Rings, Enjoy Your Own Party!

It’s tempting to be the perfect hostess who stays up all night whipping up canapes from scratch, and some of us really enjoy spending time and energy on homemade treats.  But, you know what?  Your guests might oooh and aaah over those fancy dishes you spent hours on, but at the end of the day, what they really want is time with you.  Not the exhausted, up-all-night, can’t-leave-the-table-unattended-for-ten-seconds you, but the you who’s ready to catch up, to ask them how work is going, and to sip a cocktail with a smile.  Sure, parties take work, but they should be fun, too.  Don’t be too busy throwing your holiday party to enjoy it.

You know my favorite part of every party?  When there are a few friends left, at the very end of the night.  When you’re done answering the door and refilling people’s drinks, and you can just sit down, relax and just talk.  And you know what?  That’s the best time for one last drink, that you can sip slowly and linger with over good conversation.  So for that moment, when it’s just a few of your good friends left, when you want to keep the party going a little while longer, I give you: the Midnight Kiss.

The Midnight Kiss


4 parts hot coffee
1 part Kahlúa
1 part vanilla vodka
1 part skim milk
Whipped cream
Chocolate Sprinkles


Stir together the Kahlúa, coffee, vodka, and milk and pour into teacups.  Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles, and serve.

The best cocktails are sipped responsibly.  When you’re hosting holiday parties and all year round, don’t overindulge and never drink and drive!

Disclosure: I have been compensated for this post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Kahlua 5.Final

Kahlua 10.Final


Tags: cocktails · holiday

fresh rhubarb cocktail

July 26th, 2011 · 17 Comments

Remember back when I made this strawberry rhubarb tart, and I promised you guys a cocktail recipe that features the same rhubarb syrup?  Well, this pretty little pink drink is it!

The best thing about this cocktail is that it’s hardly sweet at all.  I’m partial to cocktails that are light on the sugar and heavy on the less caloric ingredients like seltzer and fruit juices… and don’t even get me started on those pre-made mixes!  I can’t stand when I order a drink and it tastes too sweet for even dessert — who wants to start a meal off like that?

This, on the other hand, is incredibly light and refreshing, and it uses one of the freshest summer ingredients you can find. 

Do any of you guys have rhubarb growing in your gardens this summer?  If so, come on over — I’ll supply the rest! 

Rhubarb Cocktail


1/2 cup water
1 cup sliced rhubarb (1 large stalk)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ounces vodka
1 cup seltzer
Crushed Ice
Strawberries, for garnish


In a small saucepan, cook the rhubarb on medium-low heat with 1/4 cup of sugar, vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of water until broken down and tender, about 20 minutes (add more water if it runs too low). 

Mix together 2 tbsp rhubarb syrup, 1 ounce vodka, and 1/2 cup seltzer for each drink, stir thoroughly, and serve over crushed ice.  Garnish with a fresh strawberry.

Tags: cocktails · food

homemade limoncello

March 28th, 2011 · 15 Comments

It’s funny how sometimes there are products that we’re so used to buying from a store that we don’t even realize they can be made at home.  Think, marshmallowsSoft pretzelsBiscotti. Granola.

And Limoncello.  Real Limoncello is made from a grain alcohol like Everclear, but just the thought of that stuff makes me feel a little nauseous (there’s a reason it’s still illegal in about twenty states), so I’m using vodka for this version.  I also left mine unsweetened, but I’ll explain in the recipe where to add a simple syrup if you want to. 

Because, really, this is just a one-step process.  The lemony flavor of the rinds gets slowly absorbed into the vodka, leaving you with a hint of lemon and no bitterness.  I still wouldn’t drink this straight, but it would be delicious with some seltzer or lemonade for an extra little kick.  But if you want this for your next dinner party, better think ahead — the longer it steeps the better, with two weeks as an absolute minimum. 

Homemade Limoncello Recipe

2 lemons
1 cup vodka
1 1/4 cups sugar (optional)
1 cup water (optional)

Peel the lemons carefully with a knife or very sharp vegetable peeler.  Place the peels inside the cup of vodka and freeze for a minimum of two weeks (preferably 30 days).  Serve alone, or boil together the sugar and water until dissolved and mix them together.  Use immediately, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Tags: cocktails · food