by Jenn Sbranti, Editor-in-Chief, Hostess with the Mostess, Inc.
Whether you’re inspired to start entertaining because of a new home, moving in with your significant other, or just a natural desire to be a hostess with the mostess, there are definitely some entertaining basics that are essential to your get-togethers and will make your life easier if you have them on-hand. Below is a list of the top 10 entertaining essentials (in no particular order) that I’d recommend to anyone that wants to get their "party girl pantry" started. Here goes…!
1. Oh-So-Versatile White Dinnerware (Service for 8-12)
Basic white dinnerware with sleek and simple product forms are the perfect foundations for pretty much every type of tabletop theme you’d like to create. You can accent it with any type of decorative salad or appetizer plate, table linen theme, centerpiece, or color palette your heart desires, without worrying about clashing. It gives you the ultimate freedom when it comes to tabletop design!
2. Basic Glass Barware
Sticking to completely clear designs for your beverage basics is smart because it once again will work with any type of tabletop theme or drink display. Highball and lowball shapes also work for most types of beverages and cocktails, and if you’re making a signature drink that matches your party’s color palette - such as a Tequila Sunrise or Raspberry Collins - the completely clear factor will allow you to show off the fun drink colors! *pictured here: Buzz barware from cb2
3 & 4: The Essential Stemware & Beverage Servers
Chances are, when entertaining, there will usually be wine, and even champagne for special occasions such as New Year’s, engagement parties, bridal showers, and even birthday celebrations, so it’s a very smart idea to have the essential stemware in your party pantry for red and white wine and champagne. Punch is also a festive and versatile beverage to serve at group get-togethers, so a clear glass punch bowl is another great serving staple to have within reach. It’s an often-overlooked serving essential that – chances are – will suddenly become a regular "must have" for your parties after the first time you use it!
*pictured here: Rona Stemware and Crate& Barrel Punch Set
5: Attractive Ice Buckets
Most beverages need ice, and ice needs something to sit in, so an ice bucket is essential for your party. Make sure it’s a design that adds to the attractiveness of your drink station instead of taking away from it. Such a better option than that plastic mixing bowl that will have to "make do"!
*pictured here: Stainless Steel Ice Bucket and Eva Solo Ice Cube Cooler
6: Wine & Bottle Openers/Tools
Wine is quite likely to make an appearance at your party, so it would be a shame to have nothing to open it with! Make sure to always have wine and bottle openers on-hand. It’s worth splurging a little on a great opener that will make your life easier, such as this
Le Creuset® Screwpull™ Classic Wine Opener Set from Sur La Table. Bottle stoppers/pourers are also great tools to have on hand. With all the fun bottle opener designs available today, it’s a great idea to choose an opener that doubles as a conversation piece - like this adorable Elephant design from Perpetual Kid.
7. Drink Tags
Reduce the amount of times you hear "Where did I put my drink?!" at your get-together by setting out drink charms, tags, or bands for guests to mark their drinks. They may be small, but these little essentials will make a huge impact at your party! As an added bonus, they make a fun "garnish" for the drinks.
*pictured here: Stemmarkers from MoMA Store and Beer Bands from Perpetual Kid
8: Beverage Napkins
Disposable paper cocktail napkins are an easy and very inexpensive way to immediately dress up your drink display and add some color to the party!
pictured here: Fantasia, Multi Dot, and Delight beverage napkins by French Bull - all available at Loft Party.
9: Neutral Serveware and Serving Utensils
There are two types of serveware that you should always have in your collection: dishes such as platters, trays, and bowls – and serving utensils.
Let your food be the star of your appetizer or buffet by displaying it on sleek and simple white or neutral serving dishes. You can always mix in a decorative tray, but sticking to a foundation of white as the staple of your collection will give you the most flexibility for any occasion. There are lots of fun white serveware shapes out there now - so by no means does white have to mean boring! Tier servers are also great to have on hand; they allow you to incorporate any type of plate, whether it be white or a colorful pattern, so you can change up the design to match your party theme. It’s like having several serving dishes in one! Plus, the height tier servers or raised platters offer always adds an attractive element to your buffet. *pictured here: serving pieces from Chiasso, Crate&Barrel, and cb2
A great set of serving utensils is also an often-overlooked entertaining must-have, until you set out the food at your soiree and realize you’re about to be stuck using way-too-small everyday flatware to get the food out of your dishes and onto guests’ plates…oops! To keep that from happening, make sure to add a pretty and versatile set to your list, such as this chic Arctic Serving Pieces set from Crate&Barrel.
10: Kitchen Gadgets
There are several types of kitchen gadgets that are relevant not just to cooking but to entertaining as well. For example, products that help you slice fruit and vegetables into perfect form, such as these Avocado Slicers and Apple Corers, are extremely helpful in creative attractive food presentation. I also love these Chop2Pot folding cutting boards by JosephJoseph. The cool, modern design also looks great if you’re still prepping food in front of guests!
Citrus squeezers are another great tool to have on hand, as they’re useful both in the kitchen and in the bar when mixing up drinks that require a splash of lemon or lime. It also helps when they’re super cute, like these bright yellow and kelly green Citrus Squeezers from Crate&Barrel.
So the moral of the story when it comes to entertaining essentials it to start with a foundation of the simple and stylish basics that can be utilized all the time. Sticking with this general rule will give you so much freedom and versatility in the future to create any type of party design you want, without stressing about big out-of-pocket expenses over and over.