What Drinks should I serve at a Christmas Party?
In this article, we’ll cover everything drinks for Christmas parties, from drink presentation, to new recipes and new takes on old ones.
Tips for any drink:
Whether you’re hosting a party or adding some festivity to a family dinner, Christmas drinks, just like gifts, are all about presentation. If you want your drinks to say fun or elegant, here are some things to consider: Color, Glassware, Serving Methods, garnishes and most importantly, the guest list.
Most of the time, your ingredients will dictate the base color. Use these base colors to play off your décor and whatever else your serving. For example, if you know you’re serving a red drink, fan out alternating green and white napkins. If your drink is light in color or colorless, a little food dye is cheap, tasteless, requires very little, and may disguise the true nature of the drink adding a little bit of surprise for your guests. Glassware and garnishes are other forms of enhancing the color portion of presentation.
If your drink is already beautiful, a simple glass may be just right. If you’re looking for something more extravagant, don’t feel restrained by glassware names. The days of only martinis being acceptable to drink out of a martini glass are outmoded. When considering glass size, however, think about how much your guests should be drinking, the cost of that amount and whether the drink is alcoholic or not. Champagne glasses are a classy way to show your drink off while also exercising portion control. I recommend always having a nonalcoholic option. If you are also serving snacks such as cheese and crackers, your guests will get thirsty. A larger hurricane glass may be more appropriate.
I’ve always enjoyed getting a cold drink at a restaurant in a chilled glass. Even in a professional culinary environment, a chilled glass feels upmarket. If you have space in a spare freezer, put your guests’ glasses in about an hour before you expect to serve drinks.
Before pouring the mixture into the now chilled glass, consider whether a salt of sugar rim will compliment the drink. If a rim is appropriate, rub a garnish, such as a sliced lemon, all along the rim so the salt or sugar has something sticky to attach itself to.
You’d be surprised about what garnishes compliment what drink flavors. Don’t feel boxed in by thinking if you have a lemon or cranberry based drink that the garnishes must be lemon or cranberry. Do some experimenting and see what compliments your drink in flavor and presentation.
Coconut shavings also make for a festive rim. Especially if your drink is red and your glass of choice happens to be martini. The volume of coconut shavings, versus the smaller granules of a salt or sugar rim, make the drink look like an upside-down Santa hat.
The most important aspect to consider for any party is the guest list. Some families have cherished traditions and if this is your first time hosting your family, you will want to consider incorporating them. For example, if your family or group of friends have an ugly sweater competition every year, the more extravagant drinks may not be in keeping with the energy of the group. So, while you’re doing your research, make sure you also know the facts about the people you’re hoping to entertain.
1. Sparkling Cranberry Punch – Family Friendly
Punch doesn’t need to be spiked to be fun, fancy or festive! Let’s break that stigma right now with the Sparkling Cranberry Punch.
- 1-part Cranberry Juice,
- 1-part 7 up,
- Cranberries & orange slices
A chilled glass and salt or sugar rim are appropriate.
2. Grinch Cocktail (Midori Sour)
Let’s take an old favorite and add some Christmas Sprit(s) to make it new.
- 2-parts sweet and sour mix
- 1-part Midori
- 1-part spite
- Fresh lime juice to taste
- Lemon & lime slices
- Maraschino cherries and/or Cranberries
This drink is a mix so there are no directors per se.
It can be served either on the rocks or blended. It would also be good in a chilled glass with a salt rim.
3. Wassail Punch
- 4 slices fresh ginger, smashed
- 12 whole cloves
- 6 whole allspice berries
- 8 cups apple cider or unfiltered apple juice
- 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 navel orange, sliced
- 1 tart apple, cut crosswise into slices
- 1 lemon, sliced
- Cinnamon sticks to taste
Wrap the ginger, cloves, and allspice in a double layer of cheesecloth like an oversized tea bag. Place in slow cooker at low heat and add the remaining ingredients. Then stir and cover. Let simmer for about 3 hours. After that, keep on the warm setting while serving.
This drink can be served virgin or you can add bourbon, brandy, or rum. Best garnishes are cinnamon sticks, slices of orange, apple and whole cranberries.
4. Eggnog Punch
This is a drink and a dessert! You may need an alternative drink if any guests have dietary restrictions concerning dairy and/or sugar.
- 1 gallon vanilla ice cream
- 1/2 gallon eggnog
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 16 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed
Scoop ice cream into a punch bowl. Final product is more attractive if you use a decorative scoop creating full round ice cream balls. Then pour eggnog over ice cream and sprinkle in the nutmeg and cinnamon. Add whipped topping and stir.
This drink cannot sit out for long. When organizing a party, this should be your last step before guests arrive. If you use heavy whipping cream to make your whipped topping, this step can be done ahead of time.
5. Hot wine Holiday Punch
One of my favorite things about the holidays is the increase in variety of hot beverages. This is one caffeine-free hot drink that will keep your warm in the evening.
- 2 bottles red wine like Shiraz or zinfandel (something spicy)
- 2 cups pomegranate juice
- 2 cups pineapple juice
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 orange, thinly sliced
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp. cloves
Combine first four ingredients in a large pot and bring to a medium simmer. Simmer for 1 hour. Add remaining ingredients then serve.
Unlike all these other drinks so far, this one is darker in color, indicative of a more mature audience. Without the garnishes, I recommend this drink for Christmas light tours. It’ll keep you warm and your carols jolly.
Class up the Classics
Mix things up by taking your staple holiday/cold weather drinks and making them in a new way. Think of it as a drink makeover or getting your old car detailed so it shines like new.
1. Hot Chocolate
- Creamy Crock Pot
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- 14oz sweetened condensed milk
- 6 cups of milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups milk chocolate chips
Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla, and chocolate chips in a crock pot. Set to low and cover for 2 hours, stirring occasionally with whisk. Make sure to scrape the bottom thoroughly so that all chocolate chips are melted.
Once it is heated through and well mixed, switch to warm setting. Garnish individually with whipped cream, mini candy canes or marshmallows.
This is a wonderfully creamy concoction. Dove chocolate is a deluxe substitute for the milk chocolate chips. The bigger the chunks, the slower it melts and the more likely the crock pot is to burn the chocolate so chop up the chocolate and scrape the bottom often.
- Homemade Mix
- 1 cup powdered milk
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- Any dry hot chocolate garnish
- Marshmallow, crushed candy cane or cinnamon
2. Hot Cider
- If you have access to raw, untreated apple juice
- 8 cups fresh apple cider or apple juice
- 2 tsps. crushed cinnamon
- 1/8 tsps. grated nutmeg
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 orange cut into slices
- 8 cinnamon sticks
Heat the cider, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and orange slices over the oven. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the mixture is hot, stir occasionally.
Strain the mixture. Garnish with cinnamon sticks or orange slices.
If you have an orchard or know someone who does, the best juice comes from fresh small tart apples. If you don’t have one, you can buy some at the store also.
- Something new
- 8 cups V8 Splash Tropical Blend Juice Drink
- 8 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsps. nutmeg
Heat and serve. The taste is so unconventional, your guests won’t be able to place it among its fancy circumstances. Just make sure you take out the trash beforehand.
When hosting a party with family and friends, there are no hard and fast rules about absolutely having to serve a specific anything is any specific way. Experiment with flavors and décor. The most important part is knowing your guests. If you’re entertaining for family or friends, you can’t go wrong.