Hosting a Party: Ideas, Recipes, Drinks and More
If you're interested in hosting a party everyone will enjoy, the Hosting a Party Web Guide is sure to help. Whether you're throwing a multi-course formal dinner party, a Halloween costume ball or a casual gathering of friends for Super Bowl Sunday, this guide points you to the best resources on the Web. Learn where to find invitation designs, party themes, menus, party food and drinks, and lots more.
If you’re itching to entertain and are looking for a good excuse to throw a party, these sites can help you decide which holiday themes and party ideas most inspire you. There’s more to entertaining than just dinner parties; barbecues, picnics and costume parties are all great ways to get people together. Use these sites to figure out what type of party reflects your personality, and which party themes spark your creative genius.
- If you sometimes get overwhelmed or annoyed by perfect homemaker or hostess types, this Martha Stewart parody provides a dose of humor. If your dinner party soufflé doesn’t rise, don’t feel bad; visit this site for a smile.
lends a hand with its party planner tool. Choose from a long list of party themes suitable for kids of all ages. You’ll find suggestions on crafts, activities, food, games and even rental ideas.
provides a long list of themed parties. Click any of the links for photos or how-to advice on set-up and preparation. This site focuses on the crafts that will make your party unique.
If you want to spend your days designing handmade party invitations, stuffing envelopes and affixing stamps, go ahead. But you’ll lose valuable time that could be spent on planning your actual party. Use the Internet for creative party invitation ideas, and then send your party invitations online, instantly. You’ll be able to manage your guest list easily, and most online party invitation services also offer printable maps: Never get called by a panicky, lost guest again!
- You’ll have to register at many of these invitation Web sites but it’s free, and once you’ve done it, you can use the service over and over, and reuse your guest list.
- If you’re part of a social networking site, use its events notification service to let your friends know about the party you’re planning.
is one of the best-known online party invitation sites. It tracks your guests’ responses; once they register and RSVP, you’ll know exactly how many people plan to attend. Guests can also use its mapping service to get directions. Don’t miss the “Entertaining
” section for help putting together your party: You’ll find a budget estimator, drink calculator, party checklist and a selection of menus and recipes.
allows you to tailor your invitations to specific occasions. See the “occasions” section for a list of possibilities. If you don’t have a particular occasion in mind, you can custom-design your invitations. Try the “PhotoWorks
” feature to make a card with your own images.
Tired of all those tattered cookbooks on your kitchen shelves? If you don’t want to serve the finger foods your grandmother made for parties, have a look at some of these party food sites. With constant updates and an ever-increasing wealth of archived recipes, these resources can help you design and plan the perfect party menu.
- If you’re having a casual event and don’t want to spend a lot of time preparing food at home, check out your local specialty grocer (like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods) for help. Trader Joe’s also has an extensive “Party Planning” guide in PDF format.
To plan a dinner party menu …
is the source for all of your entertaining needs. Enjoy the site’s great design, complete with photos. Get ideas for party themes, menu options, cocktail and beverage advice, and, of course, many tidbits on how to inject beauty into the tiniest details.
Food & Wine
helps you plan a menu based on any type of cuisine. Browse the menus—American, Asian, Caribbean, French, Italian, Mexican—to find a number of ideas. Recommended cocktails and their recipes are also included.
provides recipe ideas for all kinds of events and gatherings. Look for menu and recipe suggestions for “March Madness
” and “Weddings
,” along with menus for most classic holiday meals.
To host a more casual gathering …
offers entertaining advice focused on simplicity and ease. Find lots of menu options, tips on decorating and preparing for any themed party, and inspiration for your spirits and wine.
gathers dishes from reputable sources like Bon Appétit and Gourmet magazines. Search results for “party appetizers” yield lots of simple yet sophisticated party recipes. Select “quick & easy” from the sidebar to narrow your search to appetizers you can make in a hurry.
provides photos and instructions detailing some casual dinner party dishes. Get easy-to-make suggestions like guacamole
and crab cakes
. Find simple dinner options for the grill, sides and salads.
Now that you’ve decided on a theme, a menu and specific recipes, you’ll need to compliment your food with the right party drinks. You’ll want to have something for everyone, so look to these sites for advice on party cocktails, wine, beer and nonalcoholic beverages. Read up on special recipes for mixed drinks and food pairing ideas. You can even order your wine and liquor online.
- For more help picking out what spirits to serve, visit the findingDulcinea Liquor and Cocktails, Wine and Beer Web Guides. You’ll learn how to complement food with the appropriate drinks, along with how to serve and where to purchase your party drink ingredients and bar tools of choice.
- Be sure to have lots of soda and soft drinks on hand for guests who don’t drink. If you know that a particular guest won’t indulge, serve him or her a nonalcoholic beverage right away so that other guests won’t offer up unwanted liquor.
For cocktail party ideas …
is an authoritative yet playful liquor encyclopedia. Find a recipe database with advanced search features, and helpful advice on barware and exotic ingredients. Use the “Mixilator
” to find drink recipes that suit your tastes. Be advised that the site often recommends cocktails containing international ingredients that can be difficult to find.
indexes lots of popular drinks, with special features for holidays and seasonal events. Search by type of liquor using the tabs at the top of the page, or just scan the many lists on the homepage, complete with colorful photos that will make your mouth water.
takes a modern look at cocktail mixology. The site specializes in hip versions of cocktail classics. Go to “Modern Spins
” for some trendy updates of old favorites, or visit “Low Calorie Cocktails
” for innovative drinks on the lighter side. The site also covers the traditional basics, and has great videos and discussions.
For advice on food and wine pairing …
E & J Gallo Winery
has a straightforward chart to help you pair wine with food. Select from a number of entrée options and seasonings, and the guide highlights which wines are typically paired with the dish you plan to make. Three options appear, ranging from “Good” to “Better” to “Best.”
For help selecting beer…
The Brewers Association
presents an article called “Pairing Beer with Food.” You’ll find a lot about the nutritional aspect of beer and how beer complements a well-rounded and healthful meal. Look for beer and food pairings arranged by topic: soups, salads, meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, egg dishes and dessert are all covered. Download the “Beer & Food Matching Chart
,” or visit “Serving Up the Perfect Beer Experience
” for hosting and serving tips.
offers “Beer first, food second,” a prize-winning article originally published in Brew Your Own magazine. Learn what beers go best with what dishes. Skip the long preface that outlines the importance of appropriate beer and food pairings, if you like. But don’t miss the list of beers with their recommended complementary foods, plus a few recipes; scroll down to find them.
For buying wine, beer and liquor online …
first asks you what state you’re in, and then tailors your shopping experience and options to your area. This authoritative and classy site uses its own sommeliers, includes detailed wine tags and even ships gourmet foods along with their impressive wine offerings.
sells several brands of many kinds of liquor. You can also order wine, beer and sake from this site.
For nonalcoholic options …
Flora’s Drink Hideout
has a long list of nonalcoholic drink recipes. Some are direct substitutes for alcoholic beverages (like the “Champagne,” which is made with white grape juice and club soda), while others are inventive variations on punch.
offers more than 700 nonalcoholic drink options, arranged by such categories as “creamy/milky” and “tropical/fruity.”
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