Setting up a perfect bar is hard on a budget, but keep one thing in mind - it doesn't have to be perfect! If your friends were expecting that they should have tried getting into Milk & Honey weeks ago. Now this celebration is about ringing in the New Year with good company and fine times. Here is an easy, classy bar set up that you can put together on the quick and not break your bank over. (No lie though, it's not the cheapest party you could throw).
- Put all the fixings out and let people mix their own drinks. It's nice to have a signature cocktail lined up and ready to pour for company, or a pitcher of sangria to serve as well, but both are optional.
- Have a bucket of ice for chilling drinks, and another for adding to drinks. I don't like to risk mixing the two.
- Have mixers: ginger ale, tonic, orange juice, or cranberry juice for people to pick from. Putting the juice in pitchers makes it look much nicer.
- Set out some garnish: Orange wedges, a cup of olives, or some limes for people to pop in their cocktail creation
- Cheese, nuts, and oddly, small munchies like chocolate covered raisins are favorites of mine to put near the cocktail bar.
- Set out glasses (no, they don't have to be perfect, correct, or even glass - sometimes Solo works just fine. Stores like Target often have fun seasonal disposable plates and cups too.) a corkscrew, bottle opener and napkins ahead of time. Oh and a tiny trashcan near the bottle opener goes a long way for those pesky bottle caps later when your cleaning up.
- Pick up a bottle of red and white wine. Chances are your guests will arrive with some as well, but it can't hurt to have some already lined up.
- Pick a liqueur and stick with it. You don't need to stock tequila, vodka, bourbon, and rum. Pick up one good bottle, and make it work.
- Dress up the cocktail area with a string of fun beads, a pop of color, or seasonal flowers. Nothing expensive, nothing all Sandra Lee over the top, but add to the holiday decor with a little gold shimmer and no one will complain.
- Make it BYOB. Beer is expensive. Especially in a day when micro-brews and hoppy specialty creations are all the rage. Your friends won't mind showing up with a 6 pack of their favorite seasonal beer.
- For New Years Eve, have fun kazoos, party poppers or even (if you have an outside area) sparkers for people to play with when the clock sstrikes midnight.
As always, play and drink responsibly.