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9 Tips for Hosting a Fall Seafood Bake (Slideshow)

9 Tips for Hosting a Fall Seafood Bake (Slideshow)


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Delicious fare from the sea doesn't have to get washed away with summer

Start with a Strong Base

When it comes to making seafood shine in any season, it is all about the bouillon/boiling liquid. "What you boil your food in is as important as the ingredients you buy," chef Pryor advises.

Click here for the Roast Recipe.

Get the Gear

Before you get started, make sure you are armed with the right gear. Chef Pryor recommends using a turkey fryer since it is inexpensive and easy to use. "A turkey fryer is basically a propane burner, a large pot and a large strainer that comes in a set," he explains. "It is very useful if you have an outdoor-space, ideally a flat stone surface away from any structures that you want to preserve." You also want to be sure you have all of the tools needed for guests to enjoy their food, like claw crackers and picks to get all of the delicious meat out of the shell.

Avoid the Supermarket

When getting ready to stock up for your bake, Pryor says that the first stop should not be a supermarket. "Lobsters and clams should be purchased alive and scallops and shrimp should be very fresh," he instructs. "Your local fish seller will know what is best."

Stay in Season

To avoid falling in a summery pitfall, go for the heartier fall vegetables to add to your pot. Pryor suggests that new potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, turnips, and late corn are all perfect for a fall boil. "For salads and desserts, keep an eye for later greens such as radicchio and endive and especially utilize pears and apples for desserts," he says.

Click here for chef Pryor's Mexican Street Corn Recipe.

Keep a Watchful Eye

Another reason a seafood bake is great for a party is that it is very easy to make. Though it may be tempting to wander around your fall party, you are in danger of overcooking by letting the food boil too long. "A good rule of thumb is that when the lobsters have boiled for 10 minutes, the rest of your boil should be ready," says Pryor.

Offer Warming Sides

Since it is fall and the weather will inevitably get nippy at night, you want to warm your guests' stomachs with rich, hot sides. For a seafood bake, Pryor suggests you turn to a chowder or a squash bisque to stay in season. "Serve [it] steaming in mugs while your guests huddle together for a nice homey touch," he says.

Do the Dip

To appeal to your guests' variety of palates, chef Pryor suggests that you make up some sauces for dipping. "I like to serve a spicy mayonnaise, a homemade tartar sauce, and drawn butter with garlic," he says.

Click here for chef Pryor's Spicy Aioli Recipe.

Top It Off

Of course, you have to have a libation to pull it all together. "One of my favorite fall moments is the arrival of local, sweet, and delicious apple cider," shares chef Pryor. This is perfect for both kids and adults as you can serve it with a simple blend of spices and make a separate spiked batch for the adults.

Click here for chef Pryor's Spiced Cider Recipe.


Tips for Hosting a Holiday Cocktail Party

Holiday cocktail parties, or “open houses” as some say, are the most popular way to entertain. A great holiday cocktail party has a festive buzz — not just from the cocktails! Sparkling candles, seasonal music, and a bountiful display of bites and treats add to the ambiance of a fabulous party. Here are my tips for hosting a festive holiday cocktail party.

Select Items that Make a Meal

When I’m working with a client to plan a cocktail party menu, I like to break out the items as I would if I were planning a dinner party. I recommend selecting one to two from each category: seafood, meat, vegetable, cheese and dessert. Especially for the holidays, I like to recommend one special splurge — maybe a beautiful carved beef tenderloin or extra large jumbo shrimp. It will make the party feel more like a special occasion.

Hot vs. Cold… Better Yet, Room Temperature

Unless you plan to hire staff or a catering company, I would recommend that everything on the menu be able to be served at room temperature. It will keep you from having to use obtrusive and unattractive chafing dishes on your food display table. If you insist on having something hot, have just one item that you can pull directly out of the oven to serve on a passed tray.

Be sure that everything you select for the menu can be made ahead of time. Have the platters assembled and ready to be pulled out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before guests arrive. Some items, like cheese and berry platters, can be set out even before that to allow the cheese to come to room temperature. Here’s a suggested cocktail party menu:

Wine, Beer & a Cocktail

Avoid offering a full bar, unless you plan on hiring staff (see my note below about when to hire help). Instead, offer wine, beer and a festive cocktail. Make a large batch of the cocktail ahead of time and serve it from a pitcher.

Help Yourself

I like to set up a “help yourself bar” for small events. I set out all of the tools ahead of time and guests can choose what they’d like. This works well for parties with no more than 14 guests beyond that it is best to assign someone as the bartender to help guests, and keep the area clean and well stocked.

  • Glasses: I like to use the same style of glasses for all of the drinks served. It keeps it simple!
  • Pretty bowl: Use a large bowl to ice down beer and chilled wine.
  • Wine: Red, white and bubbly… especially for the holidays.
  • Festive cocktail: Premixed in a pitcher, ready for serving.
  • Tools: Have a wine and bottle opener easily accessible.
  • Snack: I recommend having a bowl of candied or spiced nuts at the bar.
  • Something fresh: Don’t forget to decorate your bar area — after all, it is one of the centerpieces of the party.

For parties under 20 guests, you can likely handle everything yourself. If your guests list exceeds that, I would hire one helper for every 25 guests to assist you in keeping the food display full and fresh.

In my catering days, my husband served as my bartender at cocktail events. Usually the two of us could easily handle a party of 30 to 50 guests. I was in charge of the food and he manned the bar. He enjoyed talking “wine” and what-not with the guests… most of the time! My clients appreciated that I had such a well-mannered and professional person “on staff” to bring into their homes and help entertain their guests.

Lights, Music and Decking the Halls

Make sure your house has its party shoes on, too! Before guests arrive, dim the lights, turn up the holiday music (or hire a live musician!), light some candles and pour yourself a cocktail. Try to welcome all of your guests at the door so you can give them a great first impression of a fun, festive holiday party!

About the author: Jenny Steffens Hobick, a home entertaining and lifestyle blogger, makes entertaining accessible and enjoyable… for the hosts and guests. As a former caterer and party planner, Jenny shares her secrets to hosting casual and elegant parties. From table settings to recipes, her creative tips and resourceful methods inspire her readers to make Everyday Occasions special – whether it be a family style feast, elegant cocktail party or intimate dinner for two. Jenny believes that entertaining at its best is done often, with an effortless and easy style.


Tips for Hosting a Holiday Cocktail Party

Holiday cocktail parties, or “open houses” as some say, are the most popular way to entertain. A great holiday cocktail party has a festive buzz — not just from the cocktails! Sparkling candles, seasonal music, and a bountiful display of bites and treats add to the ambiance of a fabulous party. Here are my tips for hosting a festive holiday cocktail party.

Select Items that Make a Meal

When I’m working with a client to plan a cocktail party menu, I like to break out the items as I would if I were planning a dinner party. I recommend selecting one to two from each category: seafood, meat, vegetable, cheese and dessert. Especially for the holidays, I like to recommend one special splurge — maybe a beautiful carved beef tenderloin or extra large jumbo shrimp. It will make the party feel more like a special occasion.

Hot vs. Cold… Better Yet, Room Temperature

Unless you plan to hire staff or a catering company, I would recommend that everything on the menu be able to be served at room temperature. It will keep you from having to use obtrusive and unattractive chafing dishes on your food display table. If you insist on having something hot, have just one item that you can pull directly out of the oven to serve on a passed tray.

Be sure that everything you select for the menu can be made ahead of time. Have the platters assembled and ready to be pulled out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before guests arrive. Some items, like cheese and berry platters, can be set out even before that to allow the cheese to come to room temperature. Here’s a suggested cocktail party menu:

Wine, Beer & a Cocktail

Avoid offering a full bar, unless you plan on hiring staff (see my note below about when to hire help). Instead, offer wine, beer and a festive cocktail. Make a large batch of the cocktail ahead of time and serve it from a pitcher.

Help Yourself

I like to set up a “help yourself bar” for small events. I set out all of the tools ahead of time and guests can choose what they’d like. This works well for parties with no more than 14 guests beyond that it is best to assign someone as the bartender to help guests, and keep the area clean and well stocked.

  • Glasses: I like to use the same style of glasses for all of the drinks served. It keeps it simple!
  • Pretty bowl: Use a large bowl to ice down beer and chilled wine.
  • Wine: Red, white and bubbly… especially for the holidays.
  • Festive cocktail: Premixed in a pitcher, ready for serving.
  • Tools: Have a wine and bottle opener easily accessible.
  • Snack: I recommend having a bowl of candied or spiced nuts at the bar.
  • Something fresh: Don’t forget to decorate your bar area — after all, it is one of the centerpieces of the party.

For parties under 20 guests, you can likely handle everything yourself. If your guests list exceeds that, I would hire one helper for every 25 guests to assist you in keeping the food display full and fresh.

In my catering days, my husband served as my bartender at cocktail events. Usually the two of us could easily handle a party of 30 to 50 guests. I was in charge of the food and he manned the bar. He enjoyed talking “wine” and what-not with the guests… most of the time! My clients appreciated that I had such a well-mannered and professional person “on staff” to bring into their homes and help entertain their guests.

Lights, Music and Decking the Halls

Make sure your house has its party shoes on, too! Before guests arrive, dim the lights, turn up the holiday music (or hire a live musician!), light some candles and pour yourself a cocktail. Try to welcome all of your guests at the door so you can give them a great first impression of a fun, festive holiday party!

About the author: Jenny Steffens Hobick, a home entertaining and lifestyle blogger, makes entertaining accessible and enjoyable… for the hosts and guests. As a former caterer and party planner, Jenny shares her secrets to hosting casual and elegant parties. From table settings to recipes, her creative tips and resourceful methods inspire her readers to make Everyday Occasions special – whether it be a family style feast, elegant cocktail party or intimate dinner for two. Jenny believes that entertaining at its best is done often, with an effortless and easy style.


Tips for Hosting a Holiday Cocktail Party

Holiday cocktail parties, or “open houses” as some say, are the most popular way to entertain. A great holiday cocktail party has a festive buzz — not just from the cocktails! Sparkling candles, seasonal music, and a bountiful display of bites and treats add to the ambiance of a fabulous party. Here are my tips for hosting a festive holiday cocktail party.

Select Items that Make a Meal

When I’m working with a client to plan a cocktail party menu, I like to break out the items as I would if I were planning a dinner party. I recommend selecting one to two from each category: seafood, meat, vegetable, cheese and dessert. Especially for the holidays, I like to recommend one special splurge — maybe a beautiful carved beef tenderloin or extra large jumbo shrimp. It will make the party feel more like a special occasion.

Hot vs. Cold… Better Yet, Room Temperature

Unless you plan to hire staff or a catering company, I would recommend that everything on the menu be able to be served at room temperature. It will keep you from having to use obtrusive and unattractive chafing dishes on your food display table. If you insist on having something hot, have just one item that you can pull directly out of the oven to serve on a passed tray.

Be sure that everything you select for the menu can be made ahead of time. Have the platters assembled and ready to be pulled out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before guests arrive. Some items, like cheese and berry platters, can be set out even before that to allow the cheese to come to room temperature. Here’s a suggested cocktail party menu:

Wine, Beer & a Cocktail

Avoid offering a full bar, unless you plan on hiring staff (see my note below about when to hire help). Instead, offer wine, beer and a festive cocktail. Make a large batch of the cocktail ahead of time and serve it from a pitcher.

Help Yourself

I like to set up a “help yourself bar” for small events. I set out all of the tools ahead of time and guests can choose what they’d like. This works well for parties with no more than 14 guests beyond that it is best to assign someone as the bartender to help guests, and keep the area clean and well stocked.

  • Glasses: I like to use the same style of glasses for all of the drinks served. It keeps it simple!
  • Pretty bowl: Use a large bowl to ice down beer and chilled wine.
  • Wine: Red, white and bubbly… especially for the holidays.
  • Festive cocktail: Premixed in a pitcher, ready for serving.
  • Tools: Have a wine and bottle opener easily accessible.
  • Snack: I recommend having a bowl of candied or spiced nuts at the bar.
  • Something fresh: Don’t forget to decorate your bar area — after all, it is one of the centerpieces of the party.

For parties under 20 guests, you can likely handle everything yourself. If your guests list exceeds that, I would hire one helper for every 25 guests to assist you in keeping the food display full and fresh.

In my catering days, my husband served as my bartender at cocktail events. Usually the two of us could easily handle a party of 30 to 50 guests. I was in charge of the food and he manned the bar. He enjoyed talking “wine” and what-not with the guests… most of the time! My clients appreciated that I had such a well-mannered and professional person “on staff” to bring into their homes and help entertain their guests.

Lights, Music and Decking the Halls

Make sure your house has its party shoes on, too! Before guests arrive, dim the lights, turn up the holiday music (or hire a live musician!), light some candles and pour yourself a cocktail. Try to welcome all of your guests at the door so you can give them a great first impression of a fun, festive holiday party!

About the author: Jenny Steffens Hobick, a home entertaining and lifestyle blogger, makes entertaining accessible and enjoyable… for the hosts and guests. As a former caterer and party planner, Jenny shares her secrets to hosting casual and elegant parties. From table settings to recipes, her creative tips and resourceful methods inspire her readers to make Everyday Occasions special – whether it be a family style feast, elegant cocktail party or intimate dinner for two. Jenny believes that entertaining at its best is done often, with an effortless and easy style.


Tips for Hosting a Holiday Cocktail Party

Holiday cocktail parties, or “open houses” as some say, are the most popular way to entertain. A great holiday cocktail party has a festive buzz — not just from the cocktails! Sparkling candles, seasonal music, and a bountiful display of bites and treats add to the ambiance of a fabulous party. Here are my tips for hosting a festive holiday cocktail party.

Select Items that Make a Meal

When I’m working with a client to plan a cocktail party menu, I like to break out the items as I would if I were planning a dinner party. I recommend selecting one to two from each category: seafood, meat, vegetable, cheese and dessert. Especially for the holidays, I like to recommend one special splurge — maybe a beautiful carved beef tenderloin or extra large jumbo shrimp. It will make the party feel more like a special occasion.

Hot vs. Cold… Better Yet, Room Temperature

Unless you plan to hire staff or a catering company, I would recommend that everything on the menu be able to be served at room temperature. It will keep you from having to use obtrusive and unattractive chafing dishes on your food display table. If you insist on having something hot, have just one item that you can pull directly out of the oven to serve on a passed tray.

Be sure that everything you select for the menu can be made ahead of time. Have the platters assembled and ready to be pulled out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before guests arrive. Some items, like cheese and berry platters, can be set out even before that to allow the cheese to come to room temperature. Here’s a suggested cocktail party menu:

Wine, Beer & a Cocktail

Avoid offering a full bar, unless you plan on hiring staff (see my note below about when to hire help). Instead, offer wine, beer and a festive cocktail. Make a large batch of the cocktail ahead of time and serve it from a pitcher.

Help Yourself

I like to set up a “help yourself bar” for small events. I set out all of the tools ahead of time and guests can choose what they’d like. This works well for parties with no more than 14 guests beyond that it is best to assign someone as the bartender to help guests, and keep the area clean and well stocked.

  • Glasses: I like to use the same style of glasses for all of the drinks served. It keeps it simple!
  • Pretty bowl: Use a large bowl to ice down beer and chilled wine.
  • Wine: Red, white and bubbly… especially for the holidays.
  • Festive cocktail: Premixed in a pitcher, ready for serving.
  • Tools: Have a wine and bottle opener easily accessible.
  • Snack: I recommend having a bowl of candied or spiced nuts at the bar.
  • Something fresh: Don’t forget to decorate your bar area — after all, it is one of the centerpieces of the party.

For parties under 20 guests, you can likely handle everything yourself. If your guests list exceeds that, I would hire one helper for every 25 guests to assist you in keeping the food display full and fresh.

In my catering days, my husband served as my bartender at cocktail events. Usually the two of us could easily handle a party of 30 to 50 guests. I was in charge of the food and he manned the bar. He enjoyed talking “wine” and what-not with the guests… most of the time! My clients appreciated that I had such a well-mannered and professional person “on staff” to bring into their homes and help entertain their guests.

Lights, Music and Decking the Halls

Make sure your house has its party shoes on, too! Before guests arrive, dim the lights, turn up the holiday music (or hire a live musician!), light some candles and pour yourself a cocktail. Try to welcome all of your guests at the door so you can give them a great first impression of a fun, festive holiday party!

About the author: Jenny Steffens Hobick, a home entertaining and lifestyle blogger, makes entertaining accessible and enjoyable… for the hosts and guests. As a former caterer and party planner, Jenny shares her secrets to hosting casual and elegant parties. From table settings to recipes, her creative tips and resourceful methods inspire her readers to make Everyday Occasions special – whether it be a family style feast, elegant cocktail party or intimate dinner for two. Jenny believes that entertaining at its best is done often, with an effortless and easy style.


Tips for Hosting a Holiday Cocktail Party

Holiday cocktail parties, or “open houses” as some say, are the most popular way to entertain. A great holiday cocktail party has a festive buzz — not just from the cocktails! Sparkling candles, seasonal music, and a bountiful display of bites and treats add to the ambiance of a fabulous party. Here are my tips for hosting a festive holiday cocktail party.

Select Items that Make a Meal

When I’m working with a client to plan a cocktail party menu, I like to break out the items as I would if I were planning a dinner party. I recommend selecting one to two from each category: seafood, meat, vegetable, cheese and dessert. Especially for the holidays, I like to recommend one special splurge — maybe a beautiful carved beef tenderloin or extra large jumbo shrimp. It will make the party feel more like a special occasion.

Hot vs. Cold… Better Yet, Room Temperature

Unless you plan to hire staff or a catering company, I would recommend that everything on the menu be able to be served at room temperature. It will keep you from having to use obtrusive and unattractive chafing dishes on your food display table. If you insist on having something hot, have just one item that you can pull directly out of the oven to serve on a passed tray.

Be sure that everything you select for the menu can be made ahead of time. Have the platters assembled and ready to be pulled out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before guests arrive. Some items, like cheese and berry platters, can be set out even before that to allow the cheese to come to room temperature. Here’s a suggested cocktail party menu:

Wine, Beer & a Cocktail

Avoid offering a full bar, unless you plan on hiring staff (see my note below about when to hire help). Instead, offer wine, beer and a festive cocktail. Make a large batch of the cocktail ahead of time and serve it from a pitcher.

Help Yourself

I like to set up a “help yourself bar” for small events. I set out all of the tools ahead of time and guests can choose what they’d like. This works well for parties with no more than 14 guests beyond that it is best to assign someone as the bartender to help guests, and keep the area clean and well stocked.

  • Glasses: I like to use the same style of glasses for all of the drinks served. It keeps it simple!
  • Pretty bowl: Use a large bowl to ice down beer and chilled wine.
  • Wine: Red, white and bubbly… especially for the holidays.
  • Festive cocktail: Premixed in a pitcher, ready for serving.
  • Tools: Have a wine and bottle opener easily accessible.
  • Snack: I recommend having a bowl of candied or spiced nuts at the bar.
  • Something fresh: Don’t forget to decorate your bar area — after all, it is one of the centerpieces of the party.

For parties under 20 guests, you can likely handle everything yourself. If your guests list exceeds that, I would hire one helper for every 25 guests to assist you in keeping the food display full and fresh.

In my catering days, my husband served as my bartender at cocktail events. Usually the two of us could easily handle a party of 30 to 50 guests. I was in charge of the food and he manned the bar. He enjoyed talking “wine” and what-not with the guests… most of the time! My clients appreciated that I had such a well-mannered and professional person “on staff” to bring into their homes and help entertain their guests.

Lights, Music and Decking the Halls

Make sure your house has its party shoes on, too! Before guests arrive, dim the lights, turn up the holiday music (or hire a live musician!), light some candles and pour yourself a cocktail. Try to welcome all of your guests at the door so you can give them a great first impression of a fun, festive holiday party!

About the author: Jenny Steffens Hobick, a home entertaining and lifestyle blogger, makes entertaining accessible and enjoyable… for the hosts and guests. As a former caterer and party planner, Jenny shares her secrets to hosting casual and elegant parties. From table settings to recipes, her creative tips and resourceful methods inspire her readers to make Everyday Occasions special – whether it be a family style feast, elegant cocktail party or intimate dinner for two. Jenny believes that entertaining at its best is done often, with an effortless and easy style.


Tips for Hosting a Holiday Cocktail Party

Holiday cocktail parties, or “open houses” as some say, are the most popular way to entertain. A great holiday cocktail party has a festive buzz — not just from the cocktails! Sparkling candles, seasonal music, and a bountiful display of bites and treats add to the ambiance of a fabulous party. Here are my tips for hosting a festive holiday cocktail party.

Select Items that Make a Meal

When I’m working with a client to plan a cocktail party menu, I like to break out the items as I would if I were planning a dinner party. I recommend selecting one to two from each category: seafood, meat, vegetable, cheese and dessert. Especially for the holidays, I like to recommend one special splurge — maybe a beautiful carved beef tenderloin or extra large jumbo shrimp. It will make the party feel more like a special occasion.

Hot vs. Cold… Better Yet, Room Temperature

Unless you plan to hire staff or a catering company, I would recommend that everything on the menu be able to be served at room temperature. It will keep you from having to use obtrusive and unattractive chafing dishes on your food display table. If you insist on having something hot, have just one item that you can pull directly out of the oven to serve on a passed tray.

Be sure that everything you select for the menu can be made ahead of time. Have the platters assembled and ready to be pulled out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before guests arrive. Some items, like cheese and berry platters, can be set out even before that to allow the cheese to come to room temperature. Here’s a suggested cocktail party menu:

Wine, Beer & a Cocktail

Avoid offering a full bar, unless you plan on hiring staff (see my note below about when to hire help). Instead, offer wine, beer and a festive cocktail. Make a large batch of the cocktail ahead of time and serve it from a pitcher.

Help Yourself

I like to set up a “help yourself bar” for small events. I set out all of the tools ahead of time and guests can choose what they’d like. This works well for parties with no more than 14 guests beyond that it is best to assign someone as the bartender to help guests, and keep the area clean and well stocked.

  • Glasses: I like to use the same style of glasses for all of the drinks served. It keeps it simple!
  • Pretty bowl: Use a large bowl to ice down beer and chilled wine.
  • Wine: Red, white and bubbly… especially for the holidays.
  • Festive cocktail: Premixed in a pitcher, ready for serving.
  • Tools: Have a wine and bottle opener easily accessible.
  • Snack: I recommend having a bowl of candied or spiced nuts at the bar.
  • Something fresh: Don’t forget to decorate your bar area — after all, it is one of the centerpieces of the party.

For parties under 20 guests, you can likely handle everything yourself. If your guests list exceeds that, I would hire one helper for every 25 guests to assist you in keeping the food display full and fresh.

In my catering days, my husband served as my bartender at cocktail events. Usually the two of us could easily handle a party of 30 to 50 guests. I was in charge of the food and he manned the bar. He enjoyed talking “wine” and what-not with the guests… most of the time! My clients appreciated that I had such a well-mannered and professional person “on staff” to bring into their homes and help entertain their guests.

Lights, Music and Decking the Halls

Make sure your house has its party shoes on, too! Before guests arrive, dim the lights, turn up the holiday music (or hire a live musician!), light some candles and pour yourself a cocktail. Try to welcome all of your guests at the door so you can give them a great first impression of a fun, festive holiday party!

About the author: Jenny Steffens Hobick, a home entertaining and lifestyle blogger, makes entertaining accessible and enjoyable… for the hosts and guests. As a former caterer and party planner, Jenny shares her secrets to hosting casual and elegant parties. From table settings to recipes, her creative tips and resourceful methods inspire her readers to make Everyday Occasions special – whether it be a family style feast, elegant cocktail party or intimate dinner for two. Jenny believes that entertaining at its best is done often, with an effortless and easy style.


Tips for Hosting a Holiday Cocktail Party

Holiday cocktail parties, or “open houses” as some say, are the most popular way to entertain. A great holiday cocktail party has a festive buzz — not just from the cocktails! Sparkling candles, seasonal music, and a bountiful display of bites and treats add to the ambiance of a fabulous party. Here are my tips for hosting a festive holiday cocktail party.

Select Items that Make a Meal

When I’m working with a client to plan a cocktail party menu, I like to break out the items as I would if I were planning a dinner party. I recommend selecting one to two from each category: seafood, meat, vegetable, cheese and dessert. Especially for the holidays, I like to recommend one special splurge — maybe a beautiful carved beef tenderloin or extra large jumbo shrimp. It will make the party feel more like a special occasion.

Hot vs. Cold… Better Yet, Room Temperature

Unless you plan to hire staff or a catering company, I would recommend that everything on the menu be able to be served at room temperature. It will keep you from having to use obtrusive and unattractive chafing dishes on your food display table. If you insist on having something hot, have just one item that you can pull directly out of the oven to serve on a passed tray.

Be sure that everything you select for the menu can be made ahead of time. Have the platters assembled and ready to be pulled out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before guests arrive. Some items, like cheese and berry platters, can be set out even before that to allow the cheese to come to room temperature. Here’s a suggested cocktail party menu:

Wine, Beer & a Cocktail

Avoid offering a full bar, unless you plan on hiring staff (see my note below about when to hire help). Instead, offer wine, beer and a festive cocktail. Make a large batch of the cocktail ahead of time and serve it from a pitcher.

Help Yourself

I like to set up a “help yourself bar” for small events. I set out all of the tools ahead of time and guests can choose what they’d like. This works well for parties with no more than 14 guests beyond that it is best to assign someone as the bartender to help guests, and keep the area clean and well stocked.

  • Glasses: I like to use the same style of glasses for all of the drinks served. It keeps it simple!
  • Pretty bowl: Use a large bowl to ice down beer and chilled wine.
  • Wine: Red, white and bubbly… especially for the holidays.
  • Festive cocktail: Premixed in a pitcher, ready for serving.
  • Tools: Have a wine and bottle opener easily accessible.
  • Snack: I recommend having a bowl of candied or spiced nuts at the bar.
  • Something fresh: Don’t forget to decorate your bar area — after all, it is one of the centerpieces of the party.

For parties under 20 guests, you can likely handle everything yourself. If your guests list exceeds that, I would hire one helper for every 25 guests to assist you in keeping the food display full and fresh.

In my catering days, my husband served as my bartender at cocktail events. Usually the two of us could easily handle a party of 30 to 50 guests. I was in charge of the food and he manned the bar. He enjoyed talking “wine” and what-not with the guests… most of the time! My clients appreciated that I had such a well-mannered and professional person “on staff” to bring into their homes and help entertain their guests.

Lights, Music and Decking the Halls

Make sure your house has its party shoes on, too! Before guests arrive, dim the lights, turn up the holiday music (or hire a live musician!), light some candles and pour yourself a cocktail. Try to welcome all of your guests at the door so you can give them a great first impression of a fun, festive holiday party!

About the author: Jenny Steffens Hobick, a home entertaining and lifestyle blogger, makes entertaining accessible and enjoyable… for the hosts and guests. As a former caterer and party planner, Jenny shares her secrets to hosting casual and elegant parties. From table settings to recipes, her creative tips and resourceful methods inspire her readers to make Everyday Occasions special – whether it be a family style feast, elegant cocktail party or intimate dinner for two. Jenny believes that entertaining at its best is done often, with an effortless and easy style.


Tips for Hosting a Holiday Cocktail Party

Holiday cocktail parties, or “open houses” as some say, are the most popular way to entertain. A great holiday cocktail party has a festive buzz — not just from the cocktails! Sparkling candles, seasonal music, and a bountiful display of bites and treats add to the ambiance of a fabulous party. Here are my tips for hosting a festive holiday cocktail party.

Select Items that Make a Meal

When I’m working with a client to plan a cocktail party menu, I like to break out the items as I would if I were planning a dinner party. I recommend selecting one to two from each category: seafood, meat, vegetable, cheese and dessert. Especially for the holidays, I like to recommend one special splurge — maybe a beautiful carved beef tenderloin or extra large jumbo shrimp. It will make the party feel more like a special occasion.

Hot vs. Cold… Better Yet, Room Temperature

Unless you plan to hire staff or a catering company, I would recommend that everything on the menu be able to be served at room temperature. It will keep you from having to use obtrusive and unattractive chafing dishes on your food display table. If you insist on having something hot, have just one item that you can pull directly out of the oven to serve on a passed tray.

Be sure that everything you select for the menu can be made ahead of time. Have the platters assembled and ready to be pulled out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before guests arrive. Some items, like cheese and berry platters, can be set out even before that to allow the cheese to come to room temperature. Here’s a suggested cocktail party menu:

Wine, Beer & a Cocktail

Avoid offering a full bar, unless you plan on hiring staff (see my note below about when to hire help). Instead, offer wine, beer and a festive cocktail. Make a large batch of the cocktail ahead of time and serve it from a pitcher.

Help Yourself

I like to set up a “help yourself bar” for small events. I set out all of the tools ahead of time and guests can choose what they’d like. This works well for parties with no more than 14 guests beyond that it is best to assign someone as the bartender to help guests, and keep the area clean and well stocked.

  • Glasses: I like to use the same style of glasses for all of the drinks served. It keeps it simple!
  • Pretty bowl: Use a large bowl to ice down beer and chilled wine.
  • Wine: Red, white and bubbly… especially for the holidays.
  • Festive cocktail: Premixed in a pitcher, ready for serving.
  • Tools: Have a wine and bottle opener easily accessible.
  • Snack: I recommend having a bowl of candied or spiced nuts at the bar.
  • Something fresh: Don’t forget to decorate your bar area — after all, it is one of the centerpieces of the party.

For parties under 20 guests, you can likely handle everything yourself. If your guests list exceeds that, I would hire one helper for every 25 guests to assist you in keeping the food display full and fresh.

In my catering days, my husband served as my bartender at cocktail events. Usually the two of us could easily handle a party of 30 to 50 guests. I was in charge of the food and he manned the bar. He enjoyed talking “wine” and what-not with the guests… most of the time! My clients appreciated that I had such a well-mannered and professional person “on staff” to bring into their homes and help entertain their guests.

Lights, Music and Decking the Halls

Make sure your house has its party shoes on, too! Before guests arrive, dim the lights, turn up the holiday music (or hire a live musician!), light some candles and pour yourself a cocktail. Try to welcome all of your guests at the door so you can give them a great first impression of a fun, festive holiday party!

About the author: Jenny Steffens Hobick, a home entertaining and lifestyle blogger, makes entertaining accessible and enjoyable… for the hosts and guests. As a former caterer and party planner, Jenny shares her secrets to hosting casual and elegant parties. From table settings to recipes, her creative tips and resourceful methods inspire her readers to make Everyday Occasions special – whether it be a family style feast, elegant cocktail party or intimate dinner for two. Jenny believes that entertaining at its best is done often, with an effortless and easy style.


Tips for Hosting a Holiday Cocktail Party

Holiday cocktail parties, or “open houses” as some say, are the most popular way to entertain. A great holiday cocktail party has a festive buzz — not just from the cocktails! Sparkling candles, seasonal music, and a bountiful display of bites and treats add to the ambiance of a fabulous party. Here are my tips for hosting a festive holiday cocktail party.

Select Items that Make a Meal

When I’m working with a client to plan a cocktail party menu, I like to break out the items as I would if I were planning a dinner party. I recommend selecting one to two from each category: seafood, meat, vegetable, cheese and dessert. Especially for the holidays, I like to recommend one special splurge — maybe a beautiful carved beef tenderloin or extra large jumbo shrimp. It will make the party feel more like a special occasion.

Hot vs. Cold… Better Yet, Room Temperature

Unless you plan to hire staff or a catering company, I would recommend that everything on the menu be able to be served at room temperature. It will keep you from having to use obtrusive and unattractive chafing dishes on your food display table. If you insist on having something hot, have just one item that you can pull directly out of the oven to serve on a passed tray.

Be sure that everything you select for the menu can be made ahead of time. Have the platters assembled and ready to be pulled out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before guests arrive. Some items, like cheese and berry platters, can be set out even before that to allow the cheese to come to room temperature. Here’s a suggested cocktail party menu:

Wine, Beer & a Cocktail

Avoid offering a full bar, unless you plan on hiring staff (see my note below about when to hire help). Instead, offer wine, beer and a festive cocktail. Make a large batch of the cocktail ahead of time and serve it from a pitcher.

Help Yourself

I like to set up a “help yourself bar” for small events. I set out all of the tools ahead of time and guests can choose what they’d like. This works well for parties with no more than 14 guests beyond that it is best to assign someone as the bartender to help guests, and keep the area clean and well stocked.

  • Glasses: I like to use the same style of glasses for all of the drinks served. It keeps it simple!
  • Pretty bowl: Use a large bowl to ice down beer and chilled wine.
  • Wine: Red, white and bubbly… especially for the holidays.
  • Festive cocktail: Premixed in a pitcher, ready for serving.
  • Tools: Have a wine and bottle opener easily accessible.
  • Snack: I recommend having a bowl of candied or spiced nuts at the bar.
  • Something fresh: Don’t forget to decorate your bar area — after all, it is one of the centerpieces of the party.

For parties under 20 guests, you can likely handle everything yourself. If your guests list exceeds that, I would hire one helper for every 25 guests to assist you in keeping the food display full and fresh.

In my catering days, my husband served as my bartender at cocktail events. Usually the two of us could easily handle a party of 30 to 50 guests. I was in charge of the food and he manned the bar. He enjoyed talking “wine” and what-not with the guests… most of the time! My clients appreciated that I had such a well-mannered and professional person “on staff” to bring into their homes and help entertain their guests.

Lights, Music and Decking the Halls

Make sure your house has its party shoes on, too! Before guests arrive, dim the lights, turn up the holiday music (or hire a live musician!), light some candles and pour yourself a cocktail. Try to welcome all of your guests at the door so you can give them a great first impression of a fun, festive holiday party!

About the author: Jenny Steffens Hobick, a home entertaining and lifestyle blogger, makes entertaining accessible and enjoyable… for the hosts and guests. As a former caterer and party planner, Jenny shares her secrets to hosting casual and elegant parties. From table settings to recipes, her creative tips and resourceful methods inspire her readers to make Everyday Occasions special – whether it be a family style feast, elegant cocktail party or intimate dinner for two. Jenny believes that entertaining at its best is done often, with an effortless and easy style.


Tips for Hosting a Holiday Cocktail Party

Holiday cocktail parties, or “open houses” as some say, are the most popular way to entertain. A great holiday cocktail party has a festive buzz — not just from the cocktails! Sparkling candles, seasonal music, and a bountiful display of bites and treats add to the ambiance of a fabulous party. Here are my tips for hosting a festive holiday cocktail party.

Select Items that Make a Meal

When I’m working with a client to plan a cocktail party menu, I like to break out the items as I would if I were planning a dinner party. I recommend selecting one to two from each category: seafood, meat, vegetable, cheese and dessert. Especially for the holidays, I like to recommend one special splurge — maybe a beautiful carved beef tenderloin or extra large jumbo shrimp. It will make the party feel more like a special occasion.

Hot vs. Cold… Better Yet, Room Temperature

Unless you plan to hire staff or a catering company, I would recommend that everything on the menu be able to be served at room temperature. It will keep you from having to use obtrusive and unattractive chafing dishes on your food display table. If you insist on having something hot, have just one item that you can pull directly out of the oven to serve on a passed tray.

Be sure that everything you select for the menu can be made ahead of time. Have the platters assembled and ready to be pulled out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before guests arrive. Some items, like cheese and berry platters, can be set out even before that to allow the cheese to come to room temperature. Here’s a suggested cocktail party menu:

Wine, Beer & a Cocktail

Avoid offering a full bar, unless you plan on hiring staff (see my note below about when to hire help). Instead, offer wine, beer and a festive cocktail. Make a large batch of the cocktail ahead of time and serve it from a pitcher.

Help Yourself

I like to set up a “help yourself bar” for small events. I set out all of the tools ahead of time and guests can choose what they’d like. This works well for parties with no more than 14 guests beyond that it is best to assign someone as the bartender to help guests, and keep the area clean and well stocked.

  • Glasses: I like to use the same style of glasses for all of the drinks served. It keeps it simple!
  • Pretty bowl: Use a large bowl to ice down beer and chilled wine.
  • Wine: Red, white and bubbly… especially for the holidays.
  • Festive cocktail: Premixed in a pitcher, ready for serving.
  • Tools: Have a wine and bottle opener easily accessible.
  • Snack: I recommend having a bowl of candied or spiced nuts at the bar.
  • Something fresh: Don’t forget to decorate your bar area — after all, it is one of the centerpieces of the party.

For parties under 20 guests, you can likely handle everything yourself. If your guests list exceeds that, I would hire one helper for every 25 guests to assist you in keeping the food display full and fresh.

In my catering days, my husband served as my bartender at cocktail events. Usually the two of us could easily handle a party of 30 to 50 guests. I was in charge of the food and he manned the bar. He enjoyed talking “wine” and what-not with the guests… most of the time! My clients appreciated that I had such a well-mannered and professional person “on staff” to bring into their homes and help entertain their guests.

Lights, Music and Decking the Halls

Make sure your house has its party shoes on, too! Before guests arrive, dim the lights, turn up the holiday music (or hire a live musician!), light some candles and pour yourself a cocktail. Try to welcome all of your guests at the door so you can give them a great first impression of a fun, festive holiday party!

About the author: Jenny Steffens Hobick, a home entertaining and lifestyle blogger, makes entertaining accessible and enjoyable… for the hosts and guests. As a former caterer and party planner, Jenny shares her secrets to hosting casual and elegant parties. From table settings to recipes, her creative tips and resourceful methods inspire her readers to make Everyday Occasions special – whether it be a family style feast, elegant cocktail party or intimate dinner for two. Jenny believes that entertaining at its best is done often, with an effortless and easy style.



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