Tis the season for…hot chocolate

If there is one thing I actually enjoy about the winter season, it’s hot chocolate. And popcorn balls. Hot chocolate and popcorn balls. But today, I’d like to explore my love for the many possibilities of hot chocolate.

So often the holidays just pass us by. We say we’re going to invite people over, we say we’re going to have a holiday party and then before you know it, it’s New Years Eve! I have a solution for you!

If you don’t have the time to pull together a cookie exchange party, white elephant party or even an ugly sweater party, consider having a hot chocolate party. It’s actually quite simple since you’re only offering beverages and maybe a few cookies or treats to enjoy. Be sure to invite your guests over after dinner time, as to manage their expectations of a very simple and sweet party. It’s all in the spirit of gathering with friends and family and enjoying the holidays. And hot chocolate.

Grab some mugs, invite your friends over and enjoy some of these delicious hot chocolate recipes with your loved ones.

The Classic Twist: Red Velvet Hot Chocolate 

Continue reading

Advertisements

Splurge…Hire a Bartender

Beyond the Essentials Event Blog - Hire a BartenderA few years ago, I hosted a Signature Cocktail Party at my home. I invited all of my friends to bring their favorite cocktail recipe and serve it up over food and conversation. It was a great time, and I want to host it again, but I think next time, we’ll have someone else do all the work. While I am typically all about saving the budget, sometimes you need to splurge a little. The next time you are hosting an upscale event in your home, treat your guests and yourself by hiring a bartender.

Hiring a bartender will allow you to enjoy your party guests and take a break from tending the bar. Bartenders can also serve as great entertainment. An experienced and passionate mixologist will be shaking and pouring up delicious drinks for everyone. Work with them to create an exciting, colorful and tasty cocktail menu for everyone to enjoy.

Think about having your guests create the menu themselves as well. Create an extravagant bar full of fruit and herbs for your guests to mix and match and create their own signature cocktail.

You don’t have to break the bank on a bartender, recently licensed bartenders are eager to get real experience and will be willing to do so for a low cost.

The next time you’re hosting an upscale bridal shower, housewarming or even a holiday party in your home, consider hiring a bartender to serve you at your own party!

Inspiration Thursdays – Wine Theme Edition

Beyond the Essentials Event Blog Wine Themed Event Inspiration

I’ve been brainstorming ideas for a wine themed event that I think would be perfect for a girl’s night in, birthday party or a romantic dinner party for couples. For this Inspiration Thursday post, I’ve decided to share a few of my ideas.

I hope to fully implement these ideas into a great event, but until then…be inspired!

 

 

Continue reading

Let’s Plan Together – A Cookie Exchange Party Pt. 2

Second stop on our planning journey: Food and Beverage

When hosting an event, such as a Cookie Exchange Party, your menu can be quite hard to decide. There will be plenty of cookies to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth, but you want to make sure they aren’t too full to enjoy them. I found that it’s best to serve your guests a light menu, but provide enough food that they can snack as much as they’d like. Timing is also a keep factor. My party is held at 7pm which is prime dinner time for most people, so I like to have a substantial menu for guests to enjoy. However, pushing it back to 8pm moves it to post dinner time. This now provides you with the option for an extremely light menu (read: cheese and crackers) or no menu at all.

Bonus: When deciding on the timing of your event, consider your guest list and your budget. For example: my guest list includes parents and attending children, so I have my events earlier so they can still attend and not have to stay out late. And someone with a limited budget will most likely choose the later time to avoid a costly menu.

This year I’ve decided on a Dip Bar. I absolutely love stations, bars and buffets! Variety is a key to life and I love providing people with delicious choices to choose from. So, there will be six dips for everyone to indulge in with tortillas, crackers and bread. I’ve made sure to have a balance between spicy, veggie and meat filled dips to please everyone’s tastes. Please don’t be fooled, with the right dips, you can definitely get delightfully fooled from a variety of dips.

The six tips on the Dip Bar menu are:

Chorizo and Cheese Dip

BBQ Chicken Dip (as opposed to a Buffalo Chicken Dip, since I already had the Chorizo Dip)

Hoagie Dip

I interrupt this post for an important message: This dip is one of the best dips I have ever had. If you close your eyes and eat, you would swear you were eating an authentic Italian hoagie. Now back to our regularly scheduled post.

The Classic Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Meatball Dip

For the Bar…

This is where I have decided to tone it down than it has been in the past. In the two previous years, I’ve opened the full bar for guests to choose the drink of their choice and I’ve done signature drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

This year I’m going festive, yet simple. There will be a limited bar menu of wine, beer, soda and juice options and a Mimosa Punch. I always like to have something new, so that the “ regulars “ don’t get bored, so enter Mimosa Punch.

To see more of my Cookie Party inspiration and ideas check out my Pinterest Board here.

(Photos: evislshenanigans.com, plainchicken.com, the-girl-who-ate-everything.com, heathersdish.com, mmmisformommy.com, pearls-handcuffs-happyhour.blogspot.com, tastebook.com)

Next Stop: Layout – How to Maximize Comfort and Conversation

I’d love to hear from you! What are your thoughts on the Dip Bar and Bar Menu? Leave a comment with any suggestions and feedback!

If you’re going to do…A ” Dry ” Reception

You don’t always need a cocktail or beer to have a good time. Many people opt to have dry receptions for their weddings, corporate events, and especially at baby showers (we don’t want the mom-to-be to feel left out). If you’re going to do a dry reception there are some creative and easy ways to bring some wow to an otherwise dry reception.

Make it fun. A dry reception is the perfect opportunity to think outside the wine glass! Go nostalgic with root beer or coke floats. Go young and fun with milkshakes. Go seasonal with lemonade and iced tea. As long as it fits with the theme or has an element of wow, got for it! (Photo: iloveswmag.com)

Make it sparkle. Who doesn’t love a sparkling, bubbly drink? Sparkling cider and sparkling water are great to add to a nice fruit juice and gives the same effect of a sparkling cocktail. Make sure to serve them in a wine or champagne glass and top it off with a slice of lemon. Perfection!

Have a ” mocktail ” instead. A mocktail is a cocktail that doesn’t contain alcohol, but is just as delicious and fancy as a cocktail. Mocktails are perfect for ladies events, such as a girls night in  or evening baby shower. They let us enjoy the cute and girly drink we all love to enjoy on those nights out.  Check this out for 10 delicious mocktail recipes.

Please join me in raising your sparkling mocktails! Cheers!

It’s all the Craze…Apple Cider Bar Edition

It’s official. Fall is here. It’s time to trade in our cravings for iced tea and iced coffee for apple cider and pumpkin spice coffee. It’s time to consider having an Apple Cider bar at your next event and here are some ideas to make it great.

Get creative with the cups. I’ve mentioned before, the idea of multi-purposing, and using hollowed out actual apples as tasty and useful cups. You can also consider getting personalized mugs made for guests to use as cups and favors.

Pick great toppings: The best part of any bar or station is the toppings! Guests love to get creative and create their own delicious masterpiece. Lay out cinnamon, caramel, apple slices, vanilla ice cream, brown sugar, oranges or orange peels, flavored syrup or even champagne.

Let them decide the temperature. It’s a good idea to have both a warm and cold apple cider option. With ” bars ” it’s all about letting the guests decide what they want.

Keep the theme going. What do people love more than apple cider? Apple desserts! Fill the bar up with apple cider donuts, apple cider breads and apple pie.

Enjoy your apple cider bar at your next fall gathering!