Throughout the week we’ll be revisiting our 2013 Holiday Hosting Guide series. -ed.
All words: Holley Simmons
All photos: Dakota Fine
Throughout the week we’re running our BYT Hosting Guides wherein our favorite lifestyle experts, fashion gurus and all-around social butterflies teach you how to style, dress and host your way to (and through) the perfect holiday party. We kicked off our series with photographer Kate Warren and artist Martin Swift, who taught us how to dress our best for the holidays with the wardrobe you already own. We then brought you the secrets to holiday brunching from Nycci Nellis, publisher and radio host. Today, Washington Post Express dining and style editor Holley Simmons walks us through a cocoa party that’s sure to warm your spirits this winter…
The biggest challenge to throwing a party during the holidays is getting your guests’ schedules to line up. We’re coming up on a very busy time of year, and people are often stretched thinner than a knit stocking full of coal.
Rather than throw an elaborate, all-night dinner engagement, focus on one course or activity like a finger food fête or a gift wrapping bash. That way, people can participate for as long as they’re able and then be on their merry way. (This method, not to mention, makes planning things easier and cheaper for yourself as well!)
I chose to put together a hot cocoa party featuring a smorgasbord of hot cocoa mixes and fixings like crushed mint Oreos, caramel chucks and tiny marshmallows. Also offered was Bailey’s, Kahlua and peppermint schnapps for those who wished to spike their cocoas. (Have you bought peppermint schnapps recently? It will make you feel 18 all over again.)
I also made a batch of eggnog whipped cream and threw a pot of milk on the stove for mixing in the cocoa powder. The best part? I didn’t have to cook a single thing and people still left with happy bellies.
For party hosting attire, you’re going to want something you can move in. Give yourself a great big bear hug in your outfit pre-party to make sure you can properly greet guests. Also, opt for something dark in the event something spills on you. You don’t want to have to leave the party for a costume change. (Unless you’re one of those fabulous humans with a closet full of gowns. In which case, strut your stuff, you beautiful butterfly. It’s your goddamn party after all.)
Tunes are also key. Sadly, I’m so behind on music that I consider anything beyond Neil Young to be “indie.” I tapped my friend Margot, a real peach and music enthusiast, to throw this here playlist together for me.
Which reminds me! Don’t be afraid to ask people for their help. You can only do so much, and forcing people to do things for you is what the holidays are all about.
Be good to each other!