1. Make a List and Throw the Party YOU Want to Enjoy
The best party is the one the host enjoys the most, because it’s your party! Whatever you love, your guests will love, too. It might seem like a simple tip but it’s the most important one and that is to make a list to keep organized during the party-planning process. This list should be in three different categories: 1. Foods you love, 2. Drinks you love and 3. Things that need to get done. This list will become your saving grace in the planning process. Plan on serving at least five different appetizers, three different specialty cocktails, and three different dessert options.
2. Get “Crafty” With Your Table Setting
Roll out craft paper for your table runner. This will give your table a farmhouse chic look for pennies. It’s also great to script in bold marker directly on the paper the different foods you are serving. You can also script here some famous sayings and sentiments to keep in mind during your parties such as, “Drink Your Apple a Day,” “Make All Moments Golden” and “Friends are the Gold Medals of Life.”
3. Create A Grazing Table
It’s always easier on the host to do buffet stations or even better, a large grazing station right on the kitchen or dining room table. Make it even simpler and order from local restaurants or use the ready-made section in the grocery store. Serve various salads, skewers of meat, 5-7 different dips to be served with pitas and fresh-cut vegetables.
Choose just one hot dish like a nice stew served in a crock pot right in the middle of the table. Keep the tablescape interesting by working in odd numbers. So grab 3 different cutting boards and then 5 different larger bowls and some smaller bowls for dips and salads and spread in various containers around the table. I also always add in various heights of cake platters to add visual interest to the table. You want the table to look like it’s overflowing with delicious goodies.
4. Create a Self-Serve Drink Station
Create a self-serve drink station away from the grazing table to divert traffic and have two different mingling zones for your guests. To free up space in your fridge, keep your Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider nice and cold by making a chill station. A chill station is made by filling a tub with salted ice water which is 1 cup of salt per one gallon of water and adding ice. This is also a good opportunity to display festive ice by freezing fruit in ice cubes.
Create three different cocktails using Martinelli’s ingredients. You can also save money and time by batching your cocktails in advance and storing them in the fridge until it’s time for the party. A great recipe is our Sparkling Winter Sangria which you can make in advance and is sure to be a crowd favorite. Find the recipe here.
Use craft paper as a runner at the bar and write directly on the table the different cocktails being served. You can also create a menu card and print up the menu and prop it up with a beautiful fork. This is also a fun opportunity to honor a few guests in a fun or thoughtful way by naming a cocktail or an appetizer after them.
5. Setting the Table: Use Fresh Fruit To Decorate Your Table
Use candles of different heights and widths on your table to make it look interesting. Save money and make it festive by coring out an apple, dropping a tea candle in the middle of it and place the lit apple votives around your table.
6. Upcycle Your Centerpiece
Take your centerpiece up a notch from displaying the average bouquet in a boring vase and instead make a bottle bouquet out of fresh or silk holiday flowers. Simply cut a hole in a foam block, place over a bottle of Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider and insert holiday themed flowers. This is also a great hostess gift.
Another great option is to upcycle the 10-ounce glass Martinelli’s Apple Juice bottle, fill with store-bought flowers, and tie a colorful ribbon around it. You can even paint gold leaf accents on the glass bottles to make it more festive.
7. Get Dippity with a Caramel Apple Board or a Caramel Apple Bar
Give your guests a chance to customize their own desserts by creating a caramel apple station with a variety of toppings available to dip the apples in. The various caramels can be kept warm in jars or in a crock pot. This makes for a very fun activity for your guests.
8. Kids Interactive Beverage Station
Kids love to be interactive, too. Make a fun beverage station for them that includes Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider as the base of the drink. Have 3-5 different fruit juices available for the children to flavor their drinks. Gather an assortment of fresh fruit like apples, grapes, raspberries, and strawberries. They can rim their glasses with agave and roll the rim in glitter or crushed doritos. Then make sure you have colorful straws and even fun gummies that the kids can put in their drinks.
You can even pre-batch “mocktails” for the kids to enjoy– like our festive non-alcoholic drink the Red Carpet Sparkler, that the younger ones will love! Find the recipe here.
9. Music and Games
The music you choose will set the tone of your party. Keep it simple and find a playlist on Spotify or another music site and make sure you have ample Bluetooth speakers synced up and scattered throughout the house. Push back bulky furniture to make room for any spontaneous dancing that will break out.
Keep on hand some simple party games to prompt fun conversations amongst your guests. You can even hide small cards with conversation prompts underneath serving platters and centerpieces.
10. Keep Cleanup Simple and Sustainable
Save time cleaning up by using recyclable plasticware and compostable paper plates. There are beautiful versions available at stores that look almost like real china. The last thing you want to do after a long night of entertaining is to have to run the dishwasher or stand at the sink washing dishes.
BONUS: Get the House Ready in 1, 2, 3…
When it’s time to clean…just focus on three rooms. You don’t have to clean your whole house to get ready for a party–just focus on the main rooms: kitchen, dining room or living room and the guest bathroom. Prepare the guest bathroom so it’s inviting by adding a display of flowers in Martinelli’s Apple Juice bottles, provide guest towels and a scented candle and you’re ready to go.
About Carey Reilly:
Carey Reilly (@careyreilly) is a New York-based lifestyle expert, writer, and on-air contributor to countless national news and entertainment programs, including “Fox and Friends,” today.com, foxnews.com, Reader’s Digest and familytraveller.com.
She was named one of O, The Oprah Winfrey Magazine’s “TOP 50 Influencers and Brand Ambassadors” and is known for sharing her helpful entertaining tips for busy parents in a down-to-earth, relatable manner.
Carey has hosted over 80 episodes of the talk show, The Daily Glow on Facebook Watch. She’s been a guest on Harry Connick, Jr’s television show, Harry, Food Network’s The Kitchen, Cooking Channel’s Everyday Chinese and Food Network’s Rewrapped hosted by Joey Fatone.
To book Carey to present her “Top Tips on Easing into Holiday Entertaining 2023 with Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider,” contact Patti Costantino at email@example.com or 347.528.5872.