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How to make your holiday party awesome for non-drinkers

Holiday season is here which means the festivities are about to begin!  For many people those parties mean lots of food and alcohol. It's true most people in the U.S. do drink alcohol - this year's Gallup Consumption Habits Poll revealed that 60% of American adults drink on occasion. But that means that 40% of party goers aren't partaking!  And I'm one of them so I always appreciate a host or hostess who thinks of me or a restaurant or bar that provides non-alcoholic menu selections.  So follow this tutorial to make sure your adult guests at your holiday party aren't banished to the kids' punch bowl.  

Supplies needed:

To create a holiday bar that will be enjoyed by both your drinking and non-drinking guests you'll need:

  • Lots of interesting mixers & serving containers
  • Glassware
  • Fruit and garnish
  • Non-alcoholic wine or sparkling cider
  • Large water pitcher or jug
  • A signature drink

Step 1: Stock a good variety of mixers

Ensure your bar is filled with an extra supply of key mixers and think about flavors that will mix best complement the food being served - for the holidays, cranberry juice is a great option!  And depending on your audience, think about diet, sugar-free, and healthy mixers as well.

I highly recommend transferring your mixers into fun and attractive containers.  Get them out of the store packaging to make your party more festive.  Consider carafes, retro milk jugs, even simple glass flower vases will do the trick.

Step 2: Put out grown up glassware

Your non-drinking guests will appreciate you providing real glassware even if they're only drinking soda or water.  You don't want your non-drinking guests to stand out by sticking them with a big red solo cup for their drink while the other guests sip out of your finest crystal.  Be creative with your glassware choices: beer steins, ice cream soda glasses, even wine glasses are nice options for a holiday mocktail.

Step 3: Embellish!  

Technically speaking, it's garnish, not embellish, but you get the idea.  Spice up the party by making mixers more than a plain glass of soda.  Providing fruit and garnish makes non-alcoholic drinks more decorative, flavorful or both.  Limes, lemons, organges, mint, and cranberries are a few fun ideas to fancy up mocktails.

Step 4: Give everyone a toast-worthy beverage

Include everyone in the toast by serving wine or champagne for everyone.  Many wineries now make a "verjus" or an unfermented wine.  There's always sparkling cider and you can even find alcohol-removed champagne.  I personally love Jamesport Winery's Verjus from the North Fork of Long Island.  It's straight up grape juice and super sweet so you might want to cut it with a little seltzer.There's also a line of alcohol removed wines by Fre.  Be aware that these aren't 100% alcohol free (a very small amount of alcohol is left behind) so be considerate of those who don't drink any alcohol for religious reasons or sobriety purposes.

Step 5: Fancy up the water

Have plenty of water in a convenient location for those guests who aren't drinking and prefer a simpler beverage.  You can put the water in party mode too by adding fruit and "embellishments".  Water with your thoughtful garnish is beautifully displayed in a nice pitcher or jar and allows you and your guests to avoid frequent trips to the kitchen sink.  Some guests might be conscious about drinking soda and calorie-laden beverages so serving water with slices of orange and whole cranberries is a healthy option many guests will appreciate.  (And it might come in handy for the guest who's had one too many as well!)

Step 6: Make a signature drink that works with or without alcohol

Now for my favorite step: the mocktail!  Have you ever noticed that your friends who aren't drinking at parties will ask for "just" water or "just" a Coke?  Well, just because a drink doesn't contain alcohol doesn't mean it has to be boring.  An easy way to add a little extra something to your holiday party is by preparing a signature drink ahead of time that can be enjoyed by drinkers and non-drinkers alike.  Just mix up a seasonal drink but leave out the alcohol.  Store it in a well-labeled pitcher next to the liquors and let your guests choose.  In this case, I chose a version of The Madras (traditionally it's cranberry, OJ and vodka).  Drinkers can add a splash of vodka and non-drinkers will enjoy it just as much in its virgin form.

The finished product:

Tada!  Here you have it.  A gorgeous fully stocked bar that makes your holiday party awesome.  My bar here is complete with 5 different types of glassware, 4 separate mixers, a big jug of orange cranberry water, alcohol free white and red wine, a delicous pre-made mocktail, and plenty of garnish.  I topped it off with red and white wine and a variety of liquors for those who choose to imbibe.  

These are just a few ways you can plan awesome beverages for your non-drinking holiday party guests.  What special considerations do you take for your friends who don't drink?  I'd love to hear your ideas.

Seasons Greetings!
Lara

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