Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Five Beverage Tips for Hosting Better Parties

Serving punch at a party takes the pressure off any host, because your guests can help themselves without over-imbibing. As well as being a delicious thirst-quencher, punch also keeps the cost down, offering a refreshing alternative to a stiffer pour. The recipes you'll find in the next three posts will easily serve a crowd. I haven’t given specific serving quantities, because that depends on a number of factors. A standard punch cup holds four ounces; I usually estimate that guests will return to a punch bowl or spigot-server three times - more, if the crowd flow is smooth and the punch is in a convenient spot. 
Five Beverage Tips for Hosting Better Parties: 
• Place a label that reads “Non-Alcoholic Punch” on or beside your punch dispenser or bowl. For that matter, place another reading “Alcoholic Punch” beside the boozy stuff. Have your local stationery store laminate these labels, so you’ll have them easily available for future use. I punch a couple of holes in mine, and tie them to the top of my punch dispenser. I do the same thing with coffee urns, having labels that read: “Caffeinated Coffee,” “Decaf Coffee,” and “Hot Water.” I display a selection of caffeinated and herbal teas beside the urn labeled “Hot Water.” 
• Make your ice cubes from fruit juice so your punch won’t become diluted as the event goes on. 
• If your party’s outdoors, consider investing in a spigot-pour dispenser. An open punch bowl tends to attract wasps and fruit flies. If you buy a spigot-pour container, don’t float citrus slices or cranberries in your punch, because the small bits of fruit will plug the spigot. I published a very tasty Non-Alcoholic Cranberry Punch in my blog of May 20, 2011. The photo in that post shows my spigot-pour punch dispenser, but there are many styles from which to choose. I also like the clear plastic type, because it's not likely to break if it gets knocked off the table. My Heavenly Lemonly Lemonade recipes (July 10, 2011 blog) can also be made for a crowd.
• If you’re going to buy one spigot-style server, and you have room to store it, I recommend you buy two, serving ice water or unsweetened iced tea in the second. Nothing beats cool, clean water when it’s hot and you’re entertaining outdoors. Believe me, your guests will thank you for it!
• My fifth and final tip is that you RELAX! On the afternoon before any party, I like to listen to some music, catch up on my reading, and have a little snack. Ron caught me at it on his candid camera before we hosted a party last weekend! 

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