Libby's Ideas for Hosting a Cheap & Chic Cocktail Party:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Libby's Ideas for Hosting a Cheap & Chic Cocktail Party:
 New Years Eve is definitely the big bang of the Holiday season and the final hurrah before we really dig in for the rest of the winter.  Interior designer, author, and makeover guru on The Rachael Ray Show, Libby Langdon, has you covered!  December 31st is the one night a year that comes with the most build-up and pressure to have fun.  Libby says forget all the stress of going out and plan a fabulous party at home with friends and family, it can be as formal or as casual as you like.  Here are her Ideas for Hosting a Cheap & Chic Cocktail Party:

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1)     Keep it fun and relaxed – make what you can and buy what you can

2)     Order a cheese pizza, cut it into bite size squares, sprinkle with fresh basil and rosemary and call it "focaccia", keep a back-up warm in the oven

3)     Make sure when guests arrive that the lights are low, music is playing and drinks are ready to be poured (25 – 40 watt light bulbs will set the mood)

4)     Buy some black and white postcards and some colorful Christmas stickers – they'll make fun invitations and you'll save on postage (don't send an e-mail invite…some gestures are worth the extra minute!)

5)     Cut crudités' the night before, wrap in a damp paper towel and store in plastic bags in the fridge – it'll be perfectly crispy and ready to go!

6)     Buy a loaf of French bread (bread's an inexpensive "filler" for a cocktail menu), a pound of rare roast beef sliced thick and some prepared horseradish sauce – cut small pieces of the beef, set on the bread and top with sauce

7)     Use unusual items in your home in different ways for serving pieces – put cherry tomatoes in a vase, "stand up" your crudités' in a glass, put dip in a martini or wine glass, use a colorful scarf or wrap as a table runner, use a galvanized paint bucket for ice, – use items that will give your table height!

8)     Instead of champagne serve less expensive European Proseccos and Cavas. At $7 to $15 a bottle they are equally delicious and just as festive!

9)     If money's tight for décor, splurge on lots of candles, set votives in drinking glasses and rim the edge of the glass with sprigs of rosemary. Get one type/color of flowers – Bunches of red carnations are really cheap and they'll last the entire holiday season, just make sure you get a bunch of them!

10)  Think outside the box when it comes to décor, Fill a bowl with pine cones and little white Christmas lights, use glass pitchers as hurricanes for pillar candles, cut tall greens/twigs from your yard (or nearby park!) and tie them together with twine for a room corner "sculpture" instead of a tree, buy white paper cocktail napkins and stamp them with your initial in gold ink, fill a bowl with fresh cranberries and nestle tea lights in them, stick little gold stars on clear plastic cups to dress them up…Have some fun and enjoy your guests – a harried host is a killjoy!

11)  If you have family heirloom pieces of silver or crystal USE Them!!!!  What in the world are you waiting for?

12)  Have a Polaroid camera on hand, take pictures when guests walk in, (you can also pass this job off to one of your more outgoing single friends) tape the pictures onto blank pages in a diary.  Have guests write a little something next to their picture on the page before they leave, it gets people talking and it gives you a fun keepsake of your party!

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Libby's Entertaining Do's and Don'ts:
1)     Have music playing, candles lit and drinks ready to serve when guests arrive

2)     Have lots of candles, they create an ambience and people love how they look in candlelight

3)     Have fresh flowers – they don't have to be expensive but you can make them look expensive – they just raise the bar a bit

4)     Ask for help if you need it, people love to help but give them a job and let them do it – don't hover

5)     Send an invitation with a special touch, include some tinsel or a small candy cane…it's like a little gift arriving in your mailbox

6)     Use Tablecloths, they set an elegant feel even for a casual evening

7)     Invite guests that you think will enjoy each other, don't try some psychology experiment and combine people that you know won't mix…it's a party not a reality show

8)     Throw a party "just because", you don't have to have a big reason – you can do something as simple as order sushi and serve wine; have a dessert party and serve champagne; serve chili and beer…Have fun with friends, it's all good!

9)     Pull out your "Good Stuff" – silver, china, glassware - life is short, enjoy the beautiful things you have and make every day a special occasion

10)  Rethink ordinary household items and use them as extraordinary serving pieces, vases, glasses, tea cups, buckets, pitchers, corn dishes, candle holders, scarves …

11)  Include food items for vegetarians/ and people allergic to wheat products – it's easy to do and they'll really appreciate the gesture

1)     Tell your guests how exhausted you are and how much work you've done for your party when they arrive – it bums them out and sets a lame mood for the evening

2)     Bring your kids to an adult party and say "we're just here for one drink"

3)     Have really bright lights – people are there to look sexy, not feel like their being interrogated

4)     Serve any dish that will have you trapped back in the kitchen the entire time, either prep ahead of time or simplify your game plan and menu

5)     Make the hours on your invite too long unless you want to have a party that goes late, some people wait until the later side to arrive

6)     Send an e-mail invite – there are a few wonderful things and an invitation in the mail is one of them!

7)     Leave everything until the day of the party, it's no fun to be rushing when guests arrive

8)     Make a big deal out of saying goodbye to guests; it disrupts the flow of a party.

9)     Play music at a high volume, you should feel that it's there but not feel as though you have to yell to talk over it

10)   Get intimidated by "party rules" – there are no such things, it's simply gathering together people you enjoy and having some fun - there are a million ways to do it!

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updated 4 years ago