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