Getting the House Ready
There is no need to spend your Christmas bonus on hiring a housekeeping service to detail your house. The people who are coming to your party are really coming to see you and your family.
If you're a busy Mom there may be a few rooms that you can close the door on and exclude from the party completely. Not only do you not have to clean those rooms, but they are perfect to stash that pile of toys you just found or that pile of laundry that you just didn't get to yet.
If you are planning the party a week or so in advance try putting 1 or 2 tasks on your calendar and spread the cleaning out.
What to Drink?
A cocktail party needs cocktails of course, but not everyone will be drinking alcohol. I like to make a mocktail version of my party cocktail. This way the designated driver gets a sparkling, fun beverage as well. Make sure to check out the Mocktail article here on EverythingMom. What to drink is also a good drink recipe resource.
A white chocolate mintini can be made ahead and uses fresh mint. It's perfect if you have a pot of mint growing on your windowsill and is a real treat in the winter months.
A champagne cocktail with a twist is a beautiful New Year's Eve drink. Add a few tablespoons of pomegranate juice to a champagne glass with a few raspberries or cranberries. You can do that part ahead of time a line them up next to the sparkling wine (or sparkling water) and your guests can easily serve themselves.
An Easy Buffet
With any cocktail party it's important to have some nibbles. Your guests won't expect a full dinner, but you don't want them to drink on an empty stomach.
I like to get an array of dips that can use the same cracker, bread, and cut up veggies. It's still easy to do, but gives your guest the appearance of a larger buffet. Try making a white bean hummus , warm spinach dip, a sour cream based dip, and a few of your old favorites.
Sarah's Cucina Bella has 10 elegant appetizer options if you want to get a little fancier.
Setting Up Before the Party Starts
Go ahead and set up the buffet up to 30 minutes before everyone arrives. You can use slow cooker to keep dishes warm. Don't forget to take care of any cold dips and keep that bowl over ice. This is especially important if it could be out for hours. After all you don't want anyone to get sick at your party.
Make drink station on a table separate from the buffet to keep your guests from stagnating in one place. If you are doing a cocktail mix up a few pitchers now and you can actually visit with your guests when they get there!
Most important is to start the party with an empty dishwasher. This is the secret of keeping the clean up after the party swift and painless. It takes just a few minutes to do it before the party, but after when you are tired - it seems to be a much bigger chore.
Stock up the bathroom with extra hand towels and toilet tissue where your guests can easily find them. And keep a few bar towels in strategic places throughout the party space so they are nearby in case of a spill.
You may find that you have so much fun at your own party that you start throwing even more of them!