Enjoy the Spirit(s) of the Season with a Holiday Bar

Holiday entertaining at home often includes an assortment of beverages, soft and not so soft. You’ll feel like a guest at your own party when you set up a bar where friends can serve themselves. Here are four tips for creating a libation station holiday bar:

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Choose an out-of-the-way spot

This will make sure it doesn’t disrupt the flow of the party. Choose a corner of the room where you expect people to gather, or use your dining room sideboard or kitchen island. Leave enough space so more than one person can be pouring to avoid a line or congestion in the area.

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Stock it with the basics

You can make things easy by serving just soft drinks, beer and wine. If you want to stock a full bar, consider bourbon, gin, rum, scotch, tequila, vermouth, vodka and whiskey. You’ll also need orange juice, cranberry juice, ginger ale, tonic, club soda, lemons, limes and olives. And champagne is always a great option. These ingredients will cover the most common mixed drinks. You might also consider adding coffee liqueur or Irish crème. To know how much to purchase, check out this handy drink calculator.

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Create a special holiday drink

For a holiday-theme, choose a beverage such as eggnog, mulled wine or white cranberry “snowflake” martinis. You can make a pitcher ahead of time or fill glasses and display them on a tray, replenishing as needed. Or put out the ingredients and have a recipe card on the bar and invite guests to mix the drink themselves.

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And have the right supplies

Be sure your holiday bar area has sufficient ice, cocktail napkins, one or two towels for spills, corkscrew, shaker, measuring glass and trash container. And you’ll need an assortment of glassware. If you want to streamline things, just set out basic wine and old-fashioned glasses. If you want to do things right, offer champagne, red wine, white wine and highball glasses.

All that’s left is gathering your friends and enjoying the spirit – and spirits – of the season. And always remember to drink responsibly.

How to Host a Friendsgiving

What’s better than Thanksgiving dinner? How about two Thanksgiving dinners!! Family gatherings are important and traditional, but a growing trend is hosting a Friendsgiving, a special Thanksgiving-style dinner with your favorite friends. Hold it before Thanksgiving to create a trial run for the big day, or after to make the most of leftovers or serve something completely different. Here are some things to consider before hosting your Friendsgiving:

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Consider potluck

Friendsgiving is the perfect time to hold a potluck, making it easier than Thanksgiving because no one person will be in charge of the entire meal. Assign specific dishes or a category, such as veggies or dessert. Or be bold and enjoy whatever dishes show up in hand.

Set a theme

Another dinner-planning idea is to choose a theme and have guests bring something that fits. For example, set a theme of Italian, Chinese farm-to-table or even deep-fried. This could be a nice break from your Thanksgiving leftovers.

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Think about drinks

If you are serving alcohol, plan how you’ll stock your bar. You can make it easy and serve just wine or beer. Or create a special cocktail for the day, such as a special martini or mixed drinks. Or set out what guests will need for the most common drinks.

Make sure to accommodate special diets

Check in with friends and see if anyone has food allergies or intolerances, or follows a special diet, such as vegan or Paleo. Then make sure you have enough on your menu to fill them up.

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Decide if you want a special décor

Thanksgiving dinner usually includes a special holiday tablescape with a centerpiece, place settings, napkins and place cards. Friendsgiving, however, can be as festive or casual as you wish.

Do you hold Friendsgiving? Share you favorite tips in the comments below!

Setting a Holiday Table: Dress Up Your Dinnerware in Style

You could go out and invest in new dinnerware for the holidays. Gorgeous designs that are perfect for holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas are festive and fun. But you can also easily dress up your existing dinnerware with some easy and inexpensive details that will give you the same result. Here are five tips for setting a holiday table dressing up your existing dishes and making them shine for the season:

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1. Purchase New Salad Plates

Instead of investing in an entire set of china, why not purchase salad plates that you layer atop your everyday dinner dish? The single piece won’t cost a lot, and the top plate is the star of the setting. Choose something for the holiday or season, and it will look like you went all out.

2. Use Chargers

Classic white plates look chic and elegant when you place them on a charger. Choose luxurious silver or gold for a classic look. Or brighten up the table with jewel tones, such as ruby, emerald or sapphire. We love this snowflake charger craft idea. You’ll be surprised at the impact a charger can make when setting up a holiday table, and it can happen in a snap.

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3. Add the Details

Little things can make a big impact, and your choice of salt and pepper shakers, napkins and napkin rings can set the tone. Instead of classic white napkins, choose a bold color or pattern. Or stick with white and let the ring take center stage. You could even go simple, and tie a sprig of evergreen with twine or ribbon.

 

4. Roll Out the Table Runner

Add flair by using a dramatic table runner. Not only does it introduce a theme; a runner allows the natural beauty of your table show through. You’ll find a wide assortment of options designed for your specific holiday, or head to the fabric store and purchase a piece of velvet, satin or even faux fur. You could also use a beautiful plaid blanket when setting up a holiday table; the contrasting texture will create a warm, festive setting.

 

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5. Think About Place Mats

Place mats offer another design opportunity, and they help protect your table. Choose a color that enhances your holiday décor, or personalize a set of your own with this fun burlap place mat craft project.

We’d love to see how you create a festive tables design for the holidays. Post your photos in the comments below!

Hostess with the Mostess: How to Choose a Sleeper Sofa

Whether it’s your childhood best friend or an out-of-town relative, the holiday season often means overnight guests. While a sofa can be comfortable, a sleeper sofa is a better option if a dedicated guest room isn’t available. Before you head out to purchase a sleeper sofa, there are a few things to know.

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 Measure the Space

The first thing to think about is where you will put the sleeper sofa. Quite often a sleeper is used in a smaller room, so before you head out the door, be sure to measure your wall space. You should also consider the amount of room needed when the sleeper is in the “open” position. Most require clearance of seven and a half feet to open the mattress; you will also want to add space around the sides so your guest can easily get in and out of bed.

Another consideration is how many loose pillows the sleeper sofa has, as you will need to store them when it is being used as a bed. If your room is small, you may wish to choose a model with fewer cushions and pillows, so you don’t overwhelm your room.

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 Know Your Guests

Next, determine how many people you expect to accommodate. Sleeper sofas come in three sizes. Queen and full sizes are like their mattress-size counterparts and can sleep two. Loveseat sleeper sofas are generally 36″ to 30″ wide, slightly smaller than a standard 39” wide twin mattress, and are good for a single guest.

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Choose the Mattress

Finally, decide what kind of mattress you would like. Art Van Furniture offers three different mattress types. The majority of sleeper sofas have innerspring mattresses, which give the body support. These have come a long way and are more comfortable than sleeper sofas from the past. A new option is the air mattress sleeper sofa. This combines innerspring mattresses with an easily inflatable air mattress for an extra thick comfortable night’s rest. The third option is a memory foam mattress, which is just like the bed but designed for the sofa. Memory foam mattresses are available for special order.

Owning a sleeper sofa will make it infinitely easier to be a great host. And remember: “Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even though you wish they were.” – Unknown

Find the Dining Room that Matches Your Entertaining Style

The holiday season can also be called the dining room season. Whether you invited your large family or a small gathering of friends, it’s the time of year to celebrate with loved ones and that often involves bringing people together over food. So is your dining room ready? And does it fit your personality? Your dining room should be a reflection of your entertaining style, and the pieces you’ll need are dictated by your personality.

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The Socialite

Do you love large parties with dozens of guests, mingling and chatting with Michael Buble’s Christmas CD playing in the background? Look for a chic dining room table that will accommodate intimate gatherings, such as the NB2 Modern Dining Collection that has features clean lines and a sleek grey finish. A buffet is a must, offering a spot for appetizers and drinks. A bistro or gathering height table in your kitchen is also a great addition, since that’s often where people tend to gather.

 

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The Matriarch

Do you relish hosting your extended family once or twice a year for a traditional-style holiday feast? If so, you’ll want special pieces in an elegant style worthy of your semiannual affair. You’ll need a dining room table with a leaf (or two). A formal china cabinet or sideboard will also fit the bill. And consider a table protector to guard your investment, especially if you have small children in attendance. Consider the Infinity Dining Room Collection. The cherry finish is rich and inviting, while the leaf expands the table to 96”. You’ll love using the matching buffet for displaying prized accents or tempting dinner guests with dessert.

The Sterling Dining Set is available now. Shop the look at artvan.com.

 

The Laidback Hostess

Do you combine your everyday eating area with the space in which you entertain? If so, you’ll need a causal yet transitional dining set that would be as much at home during Saturday morning Cheerios with your kids as it would be on Christmas Day sharing a standing rib roast with your in-laws. Sturdiness, comfort and function are key for your entertaining style, so look for a table and chairs that are sold enough for daily use yet beautiful enough for showing off. The Sterling Collection from Gascho is handsome enough for company and sturdy enough for daily use. It’s an excellent example of solid wood construction, utilizing the finest selections of solid maple. An investment in Gascho is an investment in a family heirloom. You’ll love this piece for years.