Setting Up a Bar – 10 Essentials

Hotel de Paris Footed Centerpiece BowlPlanning a party this season? Setting up a bar in your home is a quick and easy way to make guests feel at home and comfortable. And most importantly, it allows them to serve themselves which in turn allows you to enjoy yourself! There is no need to go to a lot of trouble or spend a lot of money, simply clear off a surface or add a folding table with cloth, look around the kitchen for items you already have that can be used as serveware for an eclectic vibe, add the beverages and voila! You are ready to entertain!

Here are our top ten must-haves at your bar this holiday season:

1. Wine Glass Charms - or some other way for guests to identify their drink among a sea of glasses. If you are going with plastic, a simple label and permanent marker does the trick. These Stone Wine Glasses feature authentic stones on the stems with no two alike – an elegant way to keep beverages straight.

2. Ice – Keep ice handy so guests can take care of themselves and more importantly, stay out of the kitchen! A party tub is a great way to keep ice and bottled beverages cool and ready for action.

3. Something Warm – During the holidays, it's a nice idea to keep a warm beverage handy for guests. Some easy options are mulled wine or cider (find mulling spices at your grocery store and simmer on the stove before guests arrive for a heavenly smell), coffee, or simply a kettle of hot water and a selection of herbal teas on display. Don't forget the mugs!

4. Water or Seltzer – To keep guests hydrated and avoid over-drinking, keep a pitcher or water or seltzer on the bar so they don't have to traipse thru the kitchen to get to the sink. Toss in some lemon slices or cucumbers for a gourmet feel.

5. Mixers – One or two versatile liquors (like rum and vodka) are all you need if you provide a few mixers on the side so that guests can create their own signature cocktail which is less work for you and more fun for them! Pomegranate juice is very popular, simple sugar is a must and a flavored liqueur finishes the job.

6. Seasonal Brews – Some guests will just want to sip on a cold beer all night. Give them three or four choices including holiday faves. Set just a few of each out, the rest can be kept in the pantry for your next get-together.

7. Non-Alcoholic Choices – Not just for kids, grownups also may choose to go alcohol-free at your party, so include a few artisanal sodas or juices in your lineup.

8. Garnishes – A fun, easy and quick way to spruce up your bar is with slices of citrus fruits, olives for martinis, a sprig of parsley and cinnamon sticks.

9. A Snack – Keep nuts, crackers or pita chips handy at the bar for easy access.

10. Bar Accessories – Don't forget a bottle opener, corkscrew, stirrers, straws and a cocktail shaker if you'd like.

Check back with us tomorrow for weekend-before Thanksgiving Cleaning tips!

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