coctail party essentials

No big life event or celebration necessary to get your girlfriends together for a night of good convo and QT. I mean, you made it through the week and everyone is one piece. ..That deserves a celebration, right? I’m definitely the party planner of my group. Who is in charge of the office holiday and bday committee? Yep, this girl! It definitely takes time, effort and creativity to pull off a great event. I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way to share, so everyone can be a Hostess With The Mostess.

I recently had a housewarming party and my guests were impressed by the array of tasty bites. I love nothing more than elegant appetizers that look like some real prep and love went into them. The problem is I’m not Ina, Giada or even Rachel. No worries. I just turn to my bestie in these situations, Pinterest, to find some simple, yet fancy apps.

Here are a few of my go to’s. Mozzarella, tomato and basil leaf skewers topped with balsamic vinegar are always a hit. A kale salad and an organic veggie tray with an assortment of dips are a must for friends who are mindful of what they eat. Is it weird that I’m obsessed with a pretty cheese tray? Dress it up with a variety of fancy cheeses, grapes, prosciutto, fruit spreads and crackers or toasted bread. For the rest of the menu, I took a few short cuts on the recipes to save time. No shame in that. You need some time to clean and more importantly, get your nails done.

Bacon Wrapped Dates

So easy. You need pitted dates, bacon, brown sugar and tooth picks. Cut strips of bacon in half and wrap around a date. Secure with a toothpick and sprinkle with lots of brown sugar. Pop in the oven at 450 degrees until bacon is fully cooked. (Optional: stuff with goat cheese)

Shrimp & Guac Bites

You will need a bag of sweet potato chips, guacamole, shrimp, chipotle garlic seasoning, cumin, paprika, evoo. Toss the shrimp with seasonings and then sear with evoo in a pan for 2 min on each side. Add a scoop of guacamole on a chip and top off with shrimp.

Mini Steak Sliders

I’m all about the slow cooker. At noon, I placed 5lbs of bone in short ribs in the crockpot with ¼ cup of soy sauce, ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce, ½ cup balsamic vinegar, ½ cup red wine, 4 cloves garlic, tbsp of ginger. Cook for 6-8 hours on low so it falls off the bone. Add shredded meat to a toasted mini bun with arugula or spinach and slice of brie cheese.

So delicious! You know it was mission accomplished when everyone asks for the recipes.

Ok, now for the most important part-the cocktails! Sure, you can always make margs or grab a few bottles of red and white, but why not make it a little more fun? This game is a play on White Elephant and my friend aptly named it Wine Elephant. There are so many cleverly named bottles of wine out there. Take a stroll down the wine aisle and choose one that describes you. Have your friends take turns guessing who brought which one. This will definitely get some laughs. Then, time to pop some bottles and enjoy. Everyone is a winner at this game.

A nice glass of cabernet sauvignon is my absolute favorite, but red stained teeth (at least in public) are not. Provide your guests with wine wipes for your teeth. You’re such a good friend you don’t want them to ruin their selfies.

Of course, pretty wine glasses, candles, colorful cocktail napkins, and a serving tray add to the ambiance. I’m a huge fan of Kate Spade’s line.

Ok, a few more fun ideas to spice things up! If your friends are readers, have them each bring an interesting book they finished to swap with the group. If your friends haven’t picked up a book since college, try this instead. For a small group of girls this works really well. Have each guest bring their favorite item for everyone in the group. Set a price limit of $5-10. For example, if they love a new white nail polish, bring one to share with each of the guests at the party. So, everyone goes home with gifts and goes home happy.



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