Football Season Is Back! How to Host an Unforgettable Game-Day Soiree

One of the best things about fall is inviting all of your friends and family over to watch the big game, but it can be quite difficult to organize the food, drinks, and seating arrangements for that many people. Whether you’re playing host to 5 or 50 people, these fun DIY ideas will show you how to make sure your game-day bash scores a touchdown.

  1. Decorating cheap mason jars makes it easy (and festive) to dole out drinks to all of your guests. Simply use white electrical tape to create those familiar stitches normally found on the side of a football, and once your party is over, you can easily remove them and repurpose the jars for something else.
  2. To get your guests excited for the game, purchase some silly hats, masks, and noisemakers from your favorite local party store. Set them out on a table and let your guests choose their own fun costumes.
  3. To avoid awkward scrambling for seats after the guests arrive, create a comfortable seating area beforehand. Toss some pillows on the floor in front of the sofas, or pull kitchen chairs and arrange them in places where everyone can easily see the screen.
  4. Set the food out buffet-style so that guests can easily grab snacks between quarters. If you’re planning a more sit-down meal, schedule it at halftime so that everyone has time to eat.

Big Game Party Ideas [Flamingo Toes]
Top 10 Football Party Ideas for Game Day at Home [Party City]
Great Football Party Ideas: How to Host a Football Theme Party [Party 411]

How to Host a Dinner Party — Without a Dining Room

Don't have a traditional dining room table? You'll be happy to know that there are still a number of other ways to have your friends over for dinner. Here are a few smart tips for hosting a dinner party even without a dining room.

  • Think buffet-style. Avoid the sit-down feel right from the beginning by serving your food buffet style. This not only embraces the lack of a traditional dining room, it even makes it more fun.
  • Plan the menu accordingly. Since you don't have a large table, you'll want to avoid a really formal meal. This isn't the time for prime rib and multiple sides; rather, it's the perfect opportunity for a taco bar, a heaping bowl of pasta or dress-them-yourself burgers.
  • Embrace your outdoor space. If your rental comes equipped with its own private outdoor space (or even a shared outdoor area), it's the perfect opportunity to take your meal al fresco. Bring along a tablecloth, a few candles for ambiance and some recyclable plates that don't require much clean-up.
  • Take it to the floor. Toss some comfortable throw pillows around your living room and instruct your friends to gather around the coffee table.
  • Turn it into a theme night. If you're worried about the informal feel of eating on your couch with guests, turn your dinner party into a cozy theme. Pop in a movie for a laid-back movie night, or grab some board games for a dinner-party-turned-game-night.

Entertain Your Guests With These Summertime Snack Trays

People often do a bit more entertaining in the warmer months, so if you're planning on having a few friends over to enjoy the summer weather, you'll want to set out light, tasty snacks for them to enjoy. Here are just a few creative ideas for summertime snack trays that everyone will love.

  • A variety of skewers. Stick a few tasty combinations of small skewers to give your guests a handheld snack. Try adding mozzarella, tomato and basil, or add a variety of summertime fruits to another. If you want to get creative, you can even add cake bites for a sweet treat.
  • A fruit platter with dips. While many people think of vegetables when they think of dips, fruits are a bit more refreshing in the summertime. Make your own yogurt dip, add a bowl of peanut butter or even add melted chocolate for a fondue-style snack.
  • Make a multi-layer taco dip. Layer ground beef, sour cream, shredded cheese, lettuce and tomato in a large bowl, and serve the dip with crunchy tortilla chips.
  • Dress up your popcorn. Think popcorn is only reserved for movie nights? Think again! Add a zest of lemon, a bit of parsley and some fresh sea salt to your popcorn to give it a gourmet flavor that's anything but ordinary.

Easy Appetizers: 15 Summer Party Picks []

How to Shake (or Stir!) the Perfect Cocktail

If you think you need to venture to the bar to find a unique, tasty cocktail, think again. You can easily mix up your own creative cocktails and mocktails in the comfort of your own home. The most important part of a great drink is how long the flavor lingers in your mouth. You want to intrigue your taste buds and mind after the sip goes down. These tips are sure to leave a unique, lasting flavor on your tongue.

  • Choose a good quality base liquor or flavor of your cocktail.
  • Use a generous amount of the base spirit.
  • Mix in a tart or sweet ingredient such as lime juice, simple syrup, or liqueur. Remember to keep it simple and balanced, as this will make the flavors last in your mouth.
  • Add a few drops of bitters or a hydrosol, such as rosewater, to add aromatics to your drink.
  • A cocktail that contains delicate flavors or ingredients should be stirred. Be sure to shake any cocktail containing juice or egg whites.
  • To avoid diluting your drink, use larger ice cubes that will melt at a slower pace. In your glass, the ice should be visible about the alcohol line.
  • Take some time to make your cocktail look presentable. A simple lemon twist can add a touch of elegance to your drink.

From A Genius Mixologist: The Only Ratio You Need For Perfect Cocktails [Fast Company]
How to make cocktails: follow these 10 golden rules [The Guardian]
How to Make Perfect Cocktails [Williams-Sonoma Taste]

Hosting Guests on a Budget at Marquis at Barton Trails? Serve Everything from Appetizers to Entrees With These Household Items

If you’re hosting your first dinner party or holiday gathering at Marquis at Barton Trails, you may find it difficult to round up enough serving trays and platters to serve everyone. Luckily, with a bit of creativity, you can find unique and affordable ways to serve your guests with household items that you already own. Here are a few smart ideas for serving a group.

  1. Present utensils in baskets. Even if you have to use disposable utensils to accommodate everyone, make them look festive by displaying them in decorative baskets.
  2. Display appetizers right on the cutting board. Once you’re done cutting cheeses and other appetizers, leave them right on the cutting board! Attractive cutting boards create a rustic look that’s still really chic.
  3. Make your own cake stand. Create a makeshift cake stand by simply turning a glass bowl upside down and placing a matching glass plate on top. If you want to add more stability, glue the two together.
  4. Reuse martini glasses. If your party doesn’t involve martinis, use the decorative martini glasses to serve mixed nuts, candies, and other finger foods.
  5. Use disposable cookware. If worse comes to worse and you just don’t have enough serving dishes, skip over to a dollar store and purchase some disposable aluminum cooking trays. Once the food is done, you can serve it right from the tray.

Big List of Inexpensive Ways to Serve Holiday Meals [The Frugal Girls]
Creative and Fun Ways to Serve Food [Pinterest]
Fall Party Food: Cute Serving Ideas [Better Homes and Gardens]

4 Tips for Serving a Safe Food Buffet

If you’re hosting a large party, you’re likely concerned with serving tasty foods, but your goal should also be to keep those foods safe for your guests. Here are a few helpful tips that will keep your food buffet just as healthy as it is delicious.

  1. Wash your hands. The first thing you should do when preparing a food buffet is wash your hands. This prevents you from spreading germs to your guests, but it also helps to keep you safe from food borne illnesses caused by raw meat, eggs, and other ingredients. Be sure to wash your hands each time you refill the buffet, as well.
  2. Cook foods completely. It’s safe to keep foods out on a buffet, provided that they’re cooked properly beforehand. Meats like beef and pork chops should be cooked to at least 145º F, while chicken and poultry should reach at least 165º F.
  3. Use the proper serving tools. If you’re serving hot foods, be sure to store them in a chafing dish, slow cooker, or warming tray to keep them from changing temperature. Cold dishes can be served in nesting bowls over bowls of ice, and they must stay at 40°F or lower in order to stop the growth of bacteria.
  4. Abide by the two-hour rule. Finally, never let foods sit on a buffet for more than two hours. Tossing food that’s been at room temperature for too long will ensure a safe and healthy party.

Serving Up Safe Buffets [FDA]
Serving Prepared Foods Safely [Whole Foods]
Holiday or Party Buffets [USDA]
Buffet Safety [NSF]

How to Host a New Year’s Eve Party Your Guests Won’t Soon Forget

From the sparkling beverages to the twinkling lights, New Year’s Eve parties are some of the most festive (and fun!) of the whole year. Here are a few new ways to help you plan a New Year’s party that your guests will talk about all year long. (Please remember to celebrate responsibly!)

  1. Send out formal invitations. Even if you’re planning a laid-back gathering, sending out snail mail invitations will make things feel much more festive—and avoid confusion about important party details. Include an RSVP if you want to get a head count.
  2. Choose classic decor. Traditional New Year’s Eve decor never gets old, so decorate in shades of black and gold, scatter a few fun party hats and noisemakers around, and be sure that everyone gets his or her own champagne flute.
  3. Keep the food and drink flowing. Prepare more than enough finger foods, fancy hors d’oeuvres and festive desserts, make sure to choose things that everyone will enjoy. Whether you provide the drinks or make your party BYOB, be sure to let guests know in advance.
  4. Make a playlist. One of the most foolproof ways to get people dancing and having a good time is by creating a loud, lively playlist of great music. Then, simply push “play” on your iPod and have a blast!

Throw the Easiest New Year’s Eve Party Ever [Real Simple]
How To… Bring in The New Year [She Knows]
20 Last Minute New Year’s Eve Party Ideas [Ryan Seacrest]

How to Make This Year’s Halloween Party Your Best Ever

So you’ve decided to throw a Halloween party at your home, but where do you start? Luckily, a spooky Halloween theme offers an almost endless list of decoration and refreshment ideas to make your party a ghoulish good time. Here’s just a bit of inspiration.

Severed Finger Invitation []
Give your guests a fright before the party even starts by sending them a severed "finger" in a box as a party invitation!

Spiked Witch’s Brew []
For refreshments, serve a black cauldron filled with a spiked punch that looks like witch’s brew. You can even make it “smoke” by adding dry ice to the cauldron.

Monster Face Paint []
Entertain the little ones at a Halloween party by setting up a face painting station. Even if the party isn’t a costume party, they’ll love to wear their new monster face around all night.

Mad Scientist Party []
If you prefer to go all-out with a unique theme, a mad scientist party is one that your guests probably haven’t seen before. Decorate with beakers and test tubes, don a white lab coat and a wild wig, and turn your kitchen into a laboratory filled with experimental refreshments.

How to Host Your Own At-Home Wine Tasting

Few things are more enjoyable than sipping a glass of wine with your closest friends. Hosting a wine tasting is a unique way that you can do just that, and it enables you and your fellow wine lovers to sample some wines that you may have never tried before. Here are a three tips for pulling off a successful at-home wine tasting.

  1. Choose a theme. Choose a theme for each tasting in order to cover all of the different types of wines, such as a Chardonnay night or an afternoon of Pinot Noirs. Tell each of your guests to bring a bottle from a different part of the world, a different year, or a different brand.
  2. Prepare the glasses properly. You don’t need to invest in expensive wine glasses, but be sure to provide one glass for each person. Fill the glass an inch below its equator. After tasting one type of wine, rinse the glass with the type of wine you’ll be tasting next in order to rid the glass of traces of the previous wine.
  3. Serve snacks. Provide small snacks like cheese, crackers, or delicate cookies to help guests cleanse their palates in between wines and provide some sustenance throughout the evening.

How To Have The Perfect Wine Tasting At Home [HuffPost Taste]
How to Host a Wine Tasting Party [Real Simple]
How to Host a Wine Tasting [Food & Wine]

Essentials for Your at-Home Wet Bar or Bar Cart

Adding a bar cart to your home enables you to make fancy cocktails for your guests and adds a bit of vintage charm to any room. If you have the bar cart but don’t have the supplies to go on it, this list of home bar essentials can help.

  • Cocktail shaker. Invest in a high quality cocktail shaker made of a durable material like stainless steel. This will help you to mix drinks thoroughly and to pour them without spills.
  • Bottle opener and corkscrew. If you or your guests prefer wine and beer to a complex cocktail, these basic tools will come in handy.
  • Wine glasses, martini glasses, highballs, and tumblers. These are the necessary glasses for just about any drink you’ll make.
  • Blender. It’s not possible to make an icy margarita without a high quality blender, so be sure to keep one stored under your bar cart.
  • Cocktail strainer. These tools strain out pulp, ice, and other solids from cocktails while letting your booze pass easily into a glass.
  • Cutting board and knives. If you frequently garnish drinks with lemons, limes, and other fruits, keep an arsenal of sharp knives and a reliable cutting board on hand.
  • Coasters. You’ll never worry about guests ruining your wooden furniture when you have a supply of coasters in your bar cart.

The Guide to A Well-Stocked Wet Bar [Esquire]
25 Essentials for a Legit Home Bar [Complex]
10 Things You Should Have in Your Home Bar [Buzzle]

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