No-Fuss Holiday Cocktail Party

All you need is one hour to pull together an updated holiday cocktail party. Ready, set, ho ho ho!
Ellen Ruoff Riley, James Schend

Cocktail Party Menu:

60-Minute Party Plan
Great food, jazzy cocktails, hip music, and sophisticated style--all in 60 minutes. Think we're kidding? Use our plan, put it all together, and still have time to glam it up. Now, set the timer and go!

Get Organized

  • The day before the party, get your ducks in a row.
  • Make the shopping list.
  • Get out serving pieces, and wash barware.
  • Choose a vase for flowers, and fill with water.
  • Arrange the bar. Put out unopened mixers.
  • Decide on party attire (shoes, too!)--no last-minute changes.
  • Download music.

Shop Smart

  • Shop at an off hour, such as early morning or late evening.
  • Stick to your list.
  • Last up: Swing by the floral department on your way to the ice machine. Have the flowers wrapped in clear cellophane. When you get home, drop the bouquet (cellophane and all) into the vase.

Countdown
You have groceries, ice, and flowers. Put your plan in action--guests arrive in an hour.

  • Drop flowers into the vase--1 minute.
  • Prepare shrimp platter--10 minutes.
  • Roll goat cheese--10 minutes.
  • Get pimiento cheese in oven--5 minutes.
  • Set out sushi--5 minutes.
  • Dish up olives--2 minutes.
  • Put on music--2 minutes.
  • Set the mood by lighting candles and plugging in lights--5 minutes.
  • Get gussied up--15 minutes.
  • Ice the bar, and make yourself a cocktail--5 minutes.
  • Party in an hour--priceless.

Super Simple Decorations
Get fresh and sassy with your decorations. Inexpensive feather boas can replace traditional greenery on the mantel. Fill a vase with lights and beaded garland. Suspend glass candleholders in a window, and construct a simple, square wreath dressed up with one perky flower.

You're Invited
Party invitations rain down like snowflakes this time of year. Make yours stand out. Print your message onto card stock, and cut each section into a circle. Punch holes at the top and bottom of each piece, and thread onto a wooden dowel. Finally, dress it up with shiny pipe cleaner to resemble olives.

Purchase a yard of white vinyl from the fabric or crafts store. Cut it into rectangles. Use several as table runners under serving pieces. Punch holes, about three inches apart, down each side of another piece. Fit the vinyl around a glass cylinder vase, leaving two inches uncovered. Begin at the top, and lace it together with a narrow ribbon. Tie it in a small bow at the base.

Music Mix: Instant Party

"Boogie Woogie Santa Claus"
"Jingle Bells"
"Santa Claus Baby"
"We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
"Winter Wonderland"
"Baby, It's Cold Outside"
"Cool Yule"
"Underneath the Mistletoe"
"(Everybody's Waitin' For) The Man With the Bag"
"The Christmas Song"

Click here to buy this music on iTunes.