The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be overwhelming, but don't forget the silver lining — the holiday parties. Whether for work or play, holiday parties provide the perfect opportunity to dress up, chill out, and get into the holiday spirit with a few spirits of your own.

Worried because you have to host the party this year? Don't be. The secret to any memorable holiday bash is simple: set up a great drink bar with some fun, festive cocktails, and then sit back and relax while everyone (including you) enjoys the festivities.

Secrets to Setting Up a Holiday Bar

If you already have a built-in replica of the local pub in your basement, then you're several steps ahead of the rest of us — and probably don't need any holiday bar tips. But even if you don't have a bar in your home, it's easy to set one up for your holiday party. A few pointers:

  • Use a large table or spacious counter for your bar. Be sure the area is easily accessible to guests, and take the time to make it look nice. Inexpensive decorations like lights and garlands add a festive touch, and are easy to find this time of year.
     
  • If you want guests to be able to mix their own drinks, be sure to stock at least a few basic liquors. Rum, gin, bourbon, vodka, and tequila are essential. Also include the liquor that you will need for any special holiday cocktails you plan to serve.
     
  • Mixers, garnishes, ice, and a few important bar tools are also necessary if you're planning a do-it-yourself bar. Follow this checklist to be sure you have what you need.
     
  • Consider hiring a friend or college student (over the age of 21) to play bartender for the evening. Or go all out and hire professionals — then you can really relax.
     
  • Want to keep your bar simple and inexpensive? Serve wine, beer, and a signature punch or cocktail. Champagne is a popular choice, and seasonal beers can also be fun. Round out your bar with one or two of the hot holiday cocktails listed below, and you're ready to party.

Hot Holiday Cocktails

1. Crockpot Apple Cider. A crockpot filled with Hot Spiced Apple Cider is a welcome addition at any holiday party. Guests can serve themselves, and it's nice to have a non-alcoholic option for children, pregnant women, and designated drivers. Plus, you can keep a bottle of rum close by for anyone who prefers their cider spiked.

2. The Candy Cane Swirl. This bright red martini, which gets garnished with crushed candy canes, has Christmas written all over it. Added bonus: the ingredients can easily be mixed in larger quantities, making the Candy Cane Swirl an easy drink to prepare for a crowd.

3. The Chilly Cranberry Margarita. Margaritas aren't just for sipping by the pool in the hot summer sun. Cranberry juice and fresh rosemary turn this margarita into a festive, cold weather treat.

4. Pineapple Orange Mimosas. Champagne is hot for the holidays, but it is also expensive, so try stretching your dollar by serving mimosas instead. This version from the Neelys combines champagne, juice, and orange liquor for a delicious twist on the popular classic.

5. The Dark and Stormy. Fresh ginger gives this light and refreshing drink a holiday feel. For an easier version, try the Vanilla Dark and Stormy, which is made with ginger beer.

6. Ice Chocolate Cake. Why serve dessert when you can serve cocktails instead? A blend of lemon vodka and hazelnut liquor makes a sweet and satisfying drink that actually tastes like a slice of chocolate cake!

 

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