10 Holiday Party Don’ts

For a great festive soirée, avoid these pitfalls!

Party Planning

Photo: Jim Franco

Don’t forget to get yourself ready.

Yes, you’ll want the food and drinks prepared, but it’s better to do the last-minute assembling or baking when you are showered, dressed, and feeling like a calm, organized host.

Party Appetizers

Photo: Howard L. Puckett

Don’t make eating difficult.

Serving knife-and-fork food at a stand-up cocktail party makes eating awkward and messy. It’s difficult to mingle and cut big pieces of meat, so serve bite-size nibbles like these easy recipes:

Beef Tenderloin Yakitori

Curried Coconut Shrimp Balls

Oysters with Mignonette Ice

Party Cocktail

Photo: Howard L. Puckett

Don’t play bartender all night.

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.

Party Drinks

Photo: 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.

Try our Hibiscus Tea Punch.



Party Plates

Photo: Mel Yates for Living Etc.

Don’t skimp on cups and plates.

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.

Party Buffet

Photo: 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.

Party Recipes

Photo: 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.

Party Food

Photo: 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.

Try our Green Apple-Cucumber Salsa.

Party Lights

Photo: Jean Allsop

Don’t use open flames around food.

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.

Party Supplies

Photo: 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.

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