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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A very easy holiday party


When it comes to holiday parties, my theory is: the simpler, the better. Relaxed parties take two seconds to pull together and make your friends feel at ease; they're always the kind where everyone ends up hanging out late into the night.

Here are my five go-to steps for a party: 1. Forget stamps; just email invitations. 2. Wear comfy flats or wear a favorite dress with cute bare feet. (The Barefoot Contessa even wears slippers to her dinner parties; good call.)
3. Serve a signature drink. Above is a delicious Nutella-inspired hot chocolate, made by mixing a third cup of Baileys Hazelnut Flavor with a cup of hot chocolate, and topping it off with a dollop of whipped cream. (Alex was also psyched by the idea of a Baileys martini.)
4. Serve simple, yummy foods, like a mix of chocolate cookies. (I also love just plain old potato chips, as well as the pigs-in-blankets from Trader Joe's.)
5. And string up fairy lights (around windows, on the back of the sofa) to magically transform your living room. That's it!
Where do you fall on the scale of simple to elaborate parties? Any other entertaining tips to share? Especially for easy snacks?

This post is sponsored by Baileys Irish Cream. Join us at creamwithspirit.com and help us celebrate women who live their lives #withspirit.

52 comments:

ale norris said...

i just hosted a pre-holidays party this past saturday (photos on my blog) - and it was super laid back and ended up being so much fun. we just had casual food + drinks (crock pot bbq pulled pork sliders, cole slaw, southern baked beans and some spicy texas trash), made s'mores in the backyard and listened to great music! hopefully this will become an annual tradition.
-ale

Giulia S. said...

I would love it! And I have to taste that drink!:D

Sarah Zindt said...

Yum! My favorite easy snack is just fig jam with brie cheese and crackers!

J+H @ Beyond The Stoop said...

we would LOVE to have a christmas party! however, looks like it won't be happening between work parties and going "back home" to ohio to see family...

NYE party at home though!! we can see the macy's fireworks from our roof, if only we could see the ball drop too :P

cheers!

Diana said...

Yeah, I'm all about cheese plates and snacky type foods. Last year we held a casual little type of potluck where we asked each person to bring a fancy cheese or jam or cured meat or something like that, and then just made a big platter. Made mulled wine and that was that!

Simpler is usually better, in my opinion.

KT said...

I always overdo it and stress myself out when I host a party. By the time the guests arrive, I'm exhausted! I'll need to keep your tips in mind for simple and easy! That said, I do like to take shortcuts and serve some prepared food I pick up at the grocery store--hummus, olives, and nuts...just open the package and your done. And I agree with you, TJs pigs in a blanket are excellent, as are many of their other apps.

moseyblog said...

What a great idea. I love the hot chocolate and tiny fairy lights. Those fairy lights look particularly tiny with a nice, clear cable. Do you know where they are from?

Nicole Renee said...

We host an annual Holiday party that I love - it's "Soups and Sweets" I put a couple of pots of yummy soups on the stove and one in the crockpot (last year we had African Sweet Potato Stew, Chicken Tortilla Soup, Potato & Leek Soup and Moroccan Squash Soup) and bake up some goodies. We even have a cookie decorating contest. Most of the prep can be done ahead of time, which I love, and people get to sample a little bit of everything. People often use the party as an excuse to bake up something to share so we end up having tons of left overs. (Party tip - I always invest in some cheap off brand to-go containers to send everyone home with treats) It's always relaxed and easy and I love it!

Nicole Renee said...

We host an annual Holiday party that I love - it's "Soups and Sweets" I put a couple of pots of yummy soups on the stove and one in the crockpot (last year we had African Sweet Potato Stew, Chicken Tortilla Soup, Potato & Leek Soup and Moroccan Squash Soup) and bake up some goodies. We even have a cookie decorating contest. Most of the prep can be done ahead of time, which I love, and people get to sample a little bit of everything. People often use the party as an excuse to bake up something to share so we end up having tons of left overs. (Party tip - I always invest in some cheap off brand to-go containers to send everyone home with treats) It's always relaxed and easy and I love it!

Clio said...

Woah that hot chocolate looks amazing, will definitely be trying that!

Brandy said...

We recently had a teeny, tiny party (my husband, me, and one great friend) in the midst of having our floor ripped up and dried out (thank you, Hurricane Sandy!). We had to use our building's common room at the last minute because the blowers and dehumidifiers had to stay longer than expected. To make it cozy and keep it low stress we pushed our C.R. sofas up to the coffee table, had Feast (the ultimate finger food experience--see here http://oneishungry.com/2012/01/15/feast/) and good wine! While I love the ambience of a formal dinner, to keep things cozy in a less than ideal, uninviting space (something we have had to do a lot as condo dwellers) we have found the key to a successful evening can be creating a room within a room, as above. Wine, old jazz, and chocolate help ;).

Anna said...

If you do a post on the christmas holiday foods in NYC (with a recipe off course) I'll do one on stockholm with classic swedish christmas food.

Jessica Camerata said...

Love these ideas. I love a simple and casual holiday party that feels warm and cozy.

xoxo Jessica
www.mystylevita.com

judy said...

I'm glad you're able to put a creative spin on your sponsored posts that feel true to your blog. While I have no problem with sponsorships, I am beginning to wonder how fair the trade-off has been to your readers, especially long-time fans such as myself. Recently, I so often come to your blog and find myself reading posts that I have already read on Smitten or just from a few years back on this blog, while the new posts are often advertisements. I understand the idea of revisiting content (and I'm happy that you cite your original posts now), but it feels as though it has become a weekly occurrence. It's great you have sponsorships but it would be nice if the extra income that allows CoJ to keep going would be put towards more original, unsponsored content for your readers.

briannadcook said...

Judy, did you catch the end of this post? Joanna sweetly explained everything here: http://joannagoddard.blogspot.com/2012/11/have-cozy-weekend.html.

I am loving the holiday-themed posts, Joanna. Keep em' coming!

judy said...

Briannaadcook, I did catch the end of that post. But that doesn't explain why I've read the, albeit sweet, story of her brother-in-law falling in love with her sister bookcase numerous times while new content is replaced with advertisements. I truly enjoy Cup of Jo and feel Joanna should know that longtime readers (at least myself) are growing weary of the new direction her blog has taken.

Claire G said...

Thanks for this post. I really want to have a holiday party in our new apartment, but we're so busy that it feels like a lot of pressure! This reminds me that I can keep it simple :)

jessicalfly said...

First off, I am going to try this drink. I usually can't do hot alcoholic beverages but bailey's is soooo delish!

Second, I want to say that I adore your blog! I have been following for at least a year by now and it is wonderfully thoughtful and uplifting. Even the sponsored posts are great. I can still feel that the message is coming from you and I absolutely understand the reasoning behind sponsorships. Thanks for being you and for being great at sharing that with all of us!

Wendy said...

I'm a big fan of bare feet, a good mix of music, cold beer, a few bottles of good wine and crunchy snacks. Oh, and the twinkle lights stay up year round. :)

sk said...

bare feet and a cute dress sounds perfect!

The Slow Pace said...

That sounds just perfect: cosy, relaxed and happy! I'm so looking forward to meeting all my friends this holidays!

Erin said...

Just to weigh in, I have to say that I think Joanna has done an awfully nice job of integrating the sponsored posts. There are other blogs where it's absolutely painful, but here I feel like it's pretty sensitively handled. The sponsored posts typically aren't my favorite ones, but I'm never turned off by them. This one, for example, is a nice reminder that I don't have to take entertaining so bloody seriously. (And yes, that I actually do like Bailey's and a Bailey's martini would be kind of amazingly yum right now.)

Joanna, I really think it's a testament to how good you are at this (and how hard you work!) that I continually find myself cheering you on. Thanks for what you do - you really bring lots of new ideas and a lovely spirit into my days.

monique said...

Bare feet it is! I am hosting our holiday party on Dec 8 and you've just inspired me to treat myself to a pedicure the day before!

the gracious gaze said...

Wow -- that sounds so good!

xo
Kim

Deanna (Silly Goose Farm) said...

My theory on parties is similar to my theories on cooking. In cooking, everything sweet needs salt, and everything salty needs sweetness. Fancy parties should have at least one simple element, and simple parties should have one fancy element.

CAROLIN. said...

This is how a a sponsored post should look like.
The product but nevertheless a lot of text and personal ideas.
Very well done :)

Emikos Werid Unexplained thoughts said...

yes simple is better i think the best things are not over the top you can do a lot and still make it very simple. I do the same and less clean up.

Taylor Laree said...

Simple parties are the only way to go. My friends & I have cookie baking parties. Can get a little messy but everyone pitches in to clean up while the cookies bake. We play old movies in the background.

flouncesandhubbub.blogspot.com

Elle Ramirez said...

Joanna these are such great tips! I'm hosting my first ever cocktail dinner party and I can't lie I'm super anxious about it (the right music, right food, drinks, being a good hostess, cute plates/decorations, etc etc etc!) However this post really did help put things in perspective! I'm so doing the barefoot thing and I sent cute Kate Spade e-vites so I guess we're on the same wavelength with that! Thanks again! Elle from EnglishbELLE.blogspot.com

Hanna Freedlund said...

i LOVE swedish christmas food! I studied abroad there in 2010 and I am getting so excited to bake lussekatter again this year! I'd love a post about it :)

fromtheloftabove said...

great tips! i really want to try that alcoholic hot chocolate. frangelico might be a good substitute too (tastes like nutella...mmmm...)

Elisha said...

What great tips! That drink looks so cozy - definitely going to try it out!

Sarah Jane said...

I cannot wait for the holiday festivities and goodies to come around!

One said...

Amen. Don't let the haters get you down. I think you handle sponsorship with integrity and grace. Your sincerity shines through, and it makes your blog a real pleasure to read. Thank you!

Reluctant Overachiever said...

This is the way to do it. Last year I went all out on this Halloween Party and spent hours making themed food and decorating our apartment. It ended up being fun, but not worth all that stress. People would have had just as much fun if we made a cheese plate and had everyone bring wine and beer which is what we usually do. Cheese plates are the best :)

Hope said...

Hey Joanna, You're doing a great job with your sponsored posts! So far they have definitely been in the usual spirit of your blog (and that hot chocolate sounds delicious).

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pentapata said...

oh ! do you know the italian deli "bicerin" (little glass) ? you have to taste it! and yes you can use Baileys!!

Puput said...

good idea...the simpler the better, yes yes agreed :)

SAMANTHA said...

great tips! making things too complicated always puts off an anxious vibe. the easier the better, and that spiked hot cocoa sounds awesomeee.


www.dragonnfruit.com

janis said...

i'm not sure why, but these photos look a little blurry. if you click on them individually, they're much sharper. something to look in to?

sweet harvest moon said...

This is beyond perfect!

Shan said...

As a New Yorker, do you have any tips for hosting a party in a tiny space? My boyfriend and I want to host a casual holiday party this year, but we have a one bedroom apartment!

Spiked hot cocoa sounds great though. Yum! I also plan on making Glogg which is Swedish mulled wine. (They also sell it at Ikea! haha!)

Great post!

Cathi said...

I always make sure I have Baileys for the holidays - that drink sounds delicious! I like a small simple gathering just as you described - no stress! Tomorrow as I am doing my cooking I will be spiking my coffee with Baileys! Haha. Happy Thanksgiving! xxoo

asiajane said...

Sounds lovely! Regarding fairy lights, which I love: does anyone else have the problem where they don't last? I always find that some go out, or half the strand, and then I have to throw it out because it's impossible to find the ONE light that needs to be replaced...

Amanda said...

Sounds like my kind of party. That hot chocolate looks amazing!

kerry @ withmycamera.com said...

Great ideas!! I like the idea of the Bailey's Hazelnut hot chocolate. Sounds yummy!

Valentina Duracinsky said...

LOVE!

Valentina
http://valentinaduracinsky.blogspot.com/

Cheryl Hurley said...

I'm definitely an "elaborate" party-thrower. I just sent out 30 invitations in little manila envelopes for our 007-themed New Year's Party. And let's be honest, I only throw swank 60s-themed parties every New Year's Eve so I can have an excuse to wear an amazing dress and try out new recipes :) But for simple parties, definitely antipasti-inspired platters! Try combining a few different types of olives with different chopped fresh herbs or chiles + a slate of amazing cheese and jams, crackers and breads. Add some saucisson and lox. Try rolling two logs of goat cheese - one in chopped fresh dill and one in Hungarian paprika. Gorgeous and rustic! Or try mixing walnuts and honey into some fresh goat cheese for a fabulous dip.

I think you've actually inspired me to write a post about the easy-peasy spread...

Done and done!

Cheryl
http://thestylistquo.com

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Sean Carter said...

Some really great ideas, i have found that a little gift from my holiday ecards business can really set the mood for a great holiday season

Asep Suryana said...

Hi there. I really appreciate the points you made. I don't think I've actually thought about it in that way. I can really appreciate how you approached the subject matter and what you said really gave me a new perspective. Thanks for taking the time to write this all out.
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