My super easy holiday cocktail party

Despite my current condition (with child) I do love a good cocktail party. You might remember our holiday party last year  but it was quite the 3 day non-effortless set up to say the least. It was a TOTAL blast and my friends loved every second of it or so I made them repeat over and over. But this year with my being too busy to breathe syndrome, and the growing human in my belly I decided to keep it super low maintenance. The thought process was how to do a SUPER cheap and SUPER easy holiday party that still looks high-end. Fool your friends, people. They’ll be drunk within minutes anyway.

I’ve broken it down into four categories.

First up? Style, obviously. The most important of all categories ever.


Easy Breezy Holiday Party

1. Opt for plants instead of flowers. I bought these from the local hardware store (like Lowe’s) instead of going down to the flower market at 5am (like i normally do) or even splurging on flowers from a good florists. They last so much longer (some green thumbs claim that they last even for more than a month but I have yet to positively test this theory). These plants are lavender and other such easy to find plants that ranged from $2 – $10 each. I got them all for under $50. I found these vintage copper and rose-colored canisters and quickly transplanted the plants in them. So much easier than arranging flowers for hours (even though making flower arrangements is one of my favorite things to do in the world).

(Beautiful paintings by Kai Samuels-Davis)

Easy Breezy Holiday Party

2. Throw ornaments around. Nothing says effortless more than literally throwing something on a table. Our color palette was coppers, golds, champagnes, blushes, purples and the blues of the location (The Fig House) so our ornaments are these beautiful soft colors that are quiet and pale. We are very sophisticated and grown up now, aren’t we Emily?
Easy Breezy Holiday Party

3. Opt for simple (and cheap) wax candles over christmas lights. Don’t get me wrong, I love a string of lights, but nothing gives better ambience than candlelight. So we kept it simple and bought these from Ikea and called it a day. (I actually have a whole hoard of these candles so I just went into my closet and pulled them out).

Now for the food. I am a FANTASTIC cook. I can practically cook nothing in no minutes flat!


Easy Breezy Holiday Party

Now you can ‘cook’ food as many people do, especially if you know how to. But I, myself, like to ‘make food’ and basically just buy pretty food and style it for my guests.

I always buy a cheese plate, because that means you are rich and fancy. I choose my cheeses by making sure I have different colors, textures and shapes and in my color palette – as any good fromagerie does.  I add some fruit, spreads and olives to round it out (and again adding more texture, shapes and colors to the spread).

Easy Breezy Holiday Party

Easy Breezy Holiday Party

But no matter how much cheese and snacky things we have Brian (and other boys I would imagine) won’t think that they’ve eaten unless they have something that resembles a meal – like a sandwich. He could eat 3000 calories worth of meat, cheese, nuts, etc and then complain about not having dinner. But if you give him the same thing in the form of a sandwich he feels satisfied. Its hilarious.

For the sandwich I bought some baguettes, provolone cheese, ham and salted butter. We assembled them (in obvious fashion) and then cut them, channeled our inner Martha and wrapped them in waxed paper and twine. They are easy to grab and snack on, are savory and delicious and satisfy both boys and girls.

Easy Breezy Holiday Party

The rest of the food was just a combination or macaroons (pretty and delicious – I had my first macaroon the other day and was blown away at how such a boring/simple looking cookie could be so utterly delicious), beet chips (healthy and in our color palette) and miniature apples so that my guests can hold them in their hands and feel like giants.  Easy Breezy Holiday Party


Easy Breezy Holiday Party

- Opt for punch instead of artisanal cocktails. As a current non-drinker I still provide guests with the options of drinking – one must stay popular when one is pregnant. Much like an injured olympic athlete watching the big game from the sidelines I feel both happiness at even being part of the sport and regret for not being able to properly play and bring my team home.  2 more weeks, folks … although we all know it will never be the same …

Anyway. Regardless of whether there is adult libations at your cocktail party I’ve found that a VERY easy way to prepare the drinks is one big punch – a la 1970′s style. We used the very simple recipe of one bottle of vodka, one bottle of soda/seltzer, one bottle of Pom and threw in some ice and orange slices. Boom. So easy.

Easy Breezy Holiday Party

People claimed it was delicious – but definitely taste it to make sure that its to your liking – you might want more vodka or Pom.


Easy Breezy Holiday Party

No cocktail party is complete (especially around the holidays) without a proper playlist. Brian normally takes this over because he’s so gosh darn good at it – almost TOO good, where you want to take a break from dancing and sit down but you can’t because every song is better than the last.

Wireless is obviously key so that you can control the music from anywhere in the room and not have to leave your phone connected to the speaker or on a dock – which is just so 2009. Here we used the Harmon Kardon Onyx, which sounds amazing. I didn’t know much about this brand before the partnership, but of course every man in my life did because its kinda the most venerable speaker company. Very good sound, friends.

I asked my DJ friend Michael (the man, the fingers, the EARS behind every fun dance party in LA via Flashdance fame) to recommend good holiday playlists and he of course has made one before and sent me the link to share with you HERE and he also highly recommended (for a more commercial vibe with some classics) the John Waters Christmas mix HERE.

There you have it – a super easy, relatively inexpensive cocktail party for the holidays or any time of year.

And in case you were like, ‘oh i wish you had done a video of the party’ then you are in luck because tomorrow I’ll show you the video (produced by Sharkpig, of course) and photos of the party people as well as a ‘get the look’ board in case you want to …. you know … get the look.

Now go party, folks.

This post was in partnership with Harmon Kardon but all designs, words, thoughts and photos are mine. Thanks for supporting the partners that make these posts actually a reality. 

Thank you Tessa Neustadt for all of these beautiful photos, and Scott Horne for your undying love and devotion to all things style (and for helping me out on this shoot).

  1. KAIT

    love the tip about candlelight vs twinkle lights and about serving “substantial” snack foods instead of just cheese and drinks :) my boyfriend would be the exact same as your husband in the “3k calories of cheese and still not satisfied” category

  2. Looks wonderful, as always! I love parties, but I’m terrible at planning/cooking so this is the perfect easy & pretty setup for me. I’m hoping to use some of your tips for a housewarming party in January!

  3. Elizabeth

    Love it all. In the link to your last year party, there was a picture of an awesome dalmation statue. Any info/deeta on that? Also, by pom do you mean that drink or just general pomegrante juice? Sorry if that is dumb to ask.

    • Emily

      Hm, that dalmation was vintage and weighed around 42 tons. I sold it last year. :) We used a pom juice from whole foods, so I would get whatever you like – just something tart so it cuts the vodka :) THanks!

  4. avital

    I am inlove with your style!when I grow up I want to be you!

    • Emily

      AHH, thanks! Assuming that i’m grown up :) Although I am having a baby soon so I suppose that pretty much makes me a grown up!

  5. I love your cocktail recipe. So easy, pretty, and probably delicious based on the ingredients. Love the sprinkle of gold on the glasses too.

    • Ah, true! That’s a pet peeve of mine,
      and so many people still make that mistake. They are two different cookies! Nice post though with great commentary and some helpful tips. :)

  6. kelly

    I read every word of your post (because I like to laugh out loud when I’m at work :) but couldn’t find a reference to the colorful napkins. Where did you get ‘em?

    • Emily

      They are from Scott Horne’s collection (like literally he collection napkins, he doesn’t make or sell them) but tomorrow i’m posting the ‘get the look’ product board so come back!

  7. Brittany

    LOVE everything! The flashdance playlist link doesn’t work for me, is anyone else having the same problem?

  8. saltygirl

    Aw, I can’t get the link to the Flashdance holiday playlist to work!

    I’d love the rose canisters link!

    • Emily

      Thank you!

  9. Liz

    The link to the playlist isn’t working :(

    • Emily

      Yeah, i just emailed. Not sure what happened because it worked last night! Check back in a few and hopefully its fixed. xx

  10. Looks like a wonderful party! Wear are those gorgeous glasses from?

    • Emily

      Target, but come back tomorrow for more the ‘get the look’ mood board. :)

      • Can’t wait! I knew someone else would ask, I just had to scroll and see :)

  11. Deb

    Beautiful visuals, Emily! Love the vintage copper and rose-colored containers + plants idea, so fresh, simple, elegant, and unexpected. And that punch sounds terrific. Would you like my famous Cheese Buttons recipe to go with that punch?!!! Hope you’re settling into your new home and Charlie’s room is ready to go. Happiest holidays; you have much to celebrate!!!

  12. raqi

    this post is great and reminded me of orlando’s writing! I miss him over here!

    • Emily

      AHH, i’ll tell him! if he wasn’t so busy with his own blog I would insist that he writes here every day, but one can’t force ones friend to blog for them :)

  13. Megan W.

    Hey Emily,
    Thanks for sharing all the fun info, love music, makes a party….but the link to the music is not working? and I would love to find a sample of John Waters but there is no link for that, I even tried ITunes…any suggestions.
    And enjoy your last Christmas before the bambino arrives….it will only get more amazing once that happens. So happy for you!!!

  14. Just wonderful! As always! Thanks for the ideas and inspiration! Hope you have a wonderful Holiday season!

  15. Anthony Amiewalan


    Everything looks amazing! You are a lifesaver. I’m hosting a Holiday Cocktail Party and will use many of the ideas in this post.

    Thank you so much!

  16. elisabeth

    Love love love the styling, it all looks so inviting. Would love to know where the rose gold pots are from? That color is so hard to find.

  17. Kristen Rae

    You are eff’n hilarious! Talented and funny..

    Best wishes on your upcoming delivery. Enjoy :)

  18. Kelly

    funny, i just published a post on surviving cocktail parties and I didn’t even mean hosting! Your styling, as usual, is impeccable, but it’s a bit like stunt driving: not something I would attempt at home, myself.

  19. Jill

    Love it! And LOVE the gold iphone case…where did you get it?

  20. Sarah

    Beautiful, simple, elegant, and sassy. Looks like a fab party! Well done friend.

    Btw…those sconces are to. die. for.

  21. kate

    Do your friends ever get annoyed at how perfect everything looks or just expect it? Either way… your friends are so lucky to attend! I love it all… especially how it looks effortless and timeless. Well done lady with a baby on the way! :)

  22. This post is fabulous! I love how you put the food display together, especially the sandwiches tied with twine and butcher paper! So cute. I am just getting into entertaining and I can’t wait to have a holiday party. How would you display a vintage vinyl record player at a party?
    Living’s as Easy as 312

  23. Mariella

    This is FABULOUS!
    Thanks for all the great tips, and the music link.
    Just on time for my own holiday’s party!

  24. Jihane

    this post makes me want to host parties, which is weird because it’s something that always stressed me out! You know, feeling the pressure of having to make everyone happy… But you make it sound fun and easy. I’m happy to see the video tomorrow, I hope it’s gonna be some kind of remake of the Miley Cyrus video : if I don’t see you singing “We caaaaaan’t stoooop” holding a giant Teddy bear, I’m gonna be very disappointed. Just sayin’.

    • Emily

      :) If only Miley’s songs weren’t so GD expensive to license …

  25. Jocelyn Duran

    Where is that iphone case from? I love it!

    • Emily


  26. I am planning a holiday party with my friend and will be using a lot of these ideas – thanks!

  27. Lisa

    These ideas are perfect.

  28. Jane

    It looks wonderful, Emily! What is the wall color pictured at The Fig House? I love it!

    • Emily

      Theresa’s green from Farrow and Ball. Its awesome, right?

  29. Jen

    You are hilarious! The candid honesty cracks me up!

    Beautiful ideas for a fun and easy party. I thought those sandwiches were going to be way more complicated than they actually were. Goes to show what a difference presentation can make :) Thanks for great ideas going into the holiday fiesta season!

  30. sara

    what color is your wall?? the light blue-ish one!!

  31. patty blaettler

    What a fun post!

  32. A

    I love all of the brass planters in the last photo. Does anyone know where they’re from?

    • Ginny

      The copper planters are vintage!

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  35. Jennie

    Thank you so much! I am severely party-host challenged, but this gives me hope and inspiration that I could do this!

  36. jen

    question. did anyone in particular inspire these wrapped sandwiches?

  37. Verity

    Could you expand on what Pom is? I’m an Aussie and don’t know what to equate it to. Tks

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