Throwing a holiday party is not the same thing as making dinner and sipping cocktails with your pals (as you would any other evening).
In reality, what you're signing up for is so much more: Creating memories that will forever live in the Instagram feeds of those you love. So it goes without saying you better bring it with your hosting skills.
Lucky for you, E!'s Happy Hour host Morgan Stewart has a few epic pointers that will elevate your status as the party-planning guru you always knew you could be.
Make It Personal: Your friends go to a lot of get-togethers, so how do you make yours stand out? No matter your budget, give your guests a personal token to take away as a memento of the evening. Maybe it's a creative place card setting, like a festive holiday mug selected just for them. Or maybe it's something more personal, like an embroidered Christmas sweater, which you can strategically drape over their seat at the dinner table.
Know Your Audience: Nowadays it's extremely likely that guests of all ages will want to post on social media in some capacity. First there's your BFF, who wants to detail every item of food they consume via a livestream video. Then there's your mom, who wants to upload an album full of tablescapes and group photos. Regardless, make the evening social-media friendly by setting the scene. Idea: Set up a chic hot cocoa bar where guests can customize their beverage (and document the experience, too).
Set the Mood: Good vibes equal good times—always. This may seem like a no-brainier, but taking time to compile the perfect playlist will truly make or break your event. What's the tone? Is it a more formal sit-down dinner? You're going to want tunes that are more sophisticated and holiday-specific (aka music you can talk over). If you're going for a more casual house-party vibe, amp up the energy and throw in some top hits that'll make your guests want to let loose.
Most importantly, though, have you thought of a signature cocktail? Morgan's got you. See below for the Home at Last holiday cocktail recipe (made with Morgan's fave, Freixenet Cava).
"Home at Last" Recipe
1 oz cognac
1/2 oz apple purée
1/2 oz cinnamon syrup
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 dash orange bitters
1 oz. Freixenet Cava
Absinthe (for glass rinse)
Lemon, star anise (garnish)
Combine the first five into a cocktail shaker for a quick chill. Shake and strain into an Absinthe-rinsed glass. Top with Freixenet Cava and 2 dashes peychauds bitters. Serve in a champagne flute (or coupe), garnish with a lemon twist and star anise.
As always, drink responsibly and be sure to watch the video above for even more tips for party-planning bliss!