Trying to make every kind of mixed drink for guests is futile. Pick one festive cocktail (like our Holiday Mojito!) and make all the ingredients available for guests to mix themselves, or assemble in pitchers for guests to pour.
4 of 10Photo: Charles Walton IV
Don’t forget the nonalcoholic beverages.
Some guests don’t drink, so be sure to have water, juice, or a fun virgin punch for those who prefer not to indulge.
Some guests will abandon a wineglass or plate but want to go back for seconds. Be sure to have extras for guests to use. If you don’t have enough china and crystal, buy festive but elegant disposables.
6 of 10Photo: Jean Allsopp
Don’t crowd the buffet line.
It will improve guest flow and make it easier for you to replenish platters if you place nibbles on several tables. Consider a second bar spot as well—one for wine and another for mixed drinks.
7 of 10Photo: Howard L. Puckett
Don’t try a new recipe.
Save the experiments for family—you won’t want the stress of recipe failure right before guests arrive. Consider a signature dish, such as our Hot Crab and Shrimp Dip, which guests can’t wait to try each time they visit.
8 of 10Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
Don’t ignore guests’ dietary needs.
Have a variety of foods—meat, seafood, and vegetables—so anyone eating kosher or vegetarian will have something to taste.
Candlelight is beautiful, but you don’t want loose sleeves around the fire. Keep any lit candles on a fireplace mantel or in glass lanterns. Don’t use scented candles, either—the smell will interfere with the aroma of your food.
10 of 10Photo: Jean Allsopp
Don’t cry over spilled eggnog.
It happens. Something will inevitably break or spill. Use washable linens and keep the heirloom crystal in the cabinet.