Holiday Entertaining: How to Set Up the Perfect Beverage Bar Area

Madeline's Mar in Sunroom

As the Holidays are upon us, our schedules seem to get busier and busier, with all the responsibilities that come with making your Holidays perfect! And maybe for you, one of those activities is entertaining. I know it is for me! So if you are doing any entertaining this season, let me help make it as easy as possible for you!

Madeline's Mar in Sunroom


First, find an area of your home where guests can go and get their beverages away from the hustle and bustle in the kitchen zone. If you have a counter in your kitchen that is out of your work zone, or an area of your dining room or gathering room where you have a shelf, or a buffet, you can set up your beverage bar there! I intentionally made a bar area in our sunroom because of how often I love entertaining, so if you love to entertain as much as I do, maybe that’s also an option for you!¬†Either way, having this area will be a game changer for you!

Wine and Signature Drink in bar area


Depending on time of year, and if you have a theme for your party, select a couple pre-made drinks that your guests can help themselves to easily. For the December Holidays, I like to have something Holiday focused, like a reddish drink like a Cosmopolitan that has a vodka base, and something whiskey based like a Bourbon Ginger Beer Splash. Also, for non-alcoholic beverages, try a pitcher of water water with berries and mint, or cucumbers and basil! It’s festive looking and delicious!

Signature drink at bar area


I always have some citrus fruit cut up, such as lemons, limes and oranges, and during the Holidays I love adding fresh cranberries and candy canes! Having some charms for wine glasses help everyone keep their glass straight! And as for ice, I start making it a few days ahead, storing each batch in Ziploc bags. Then all you have to do is grab a bag and dump it into your ice bucket! There’s always an option to get a separate ice maker if you do entertain a great deal, especially in the summertime when you can never have enough ice!

Bar area with liquor


When planning a party, I try to have a variety of wines, beers, seltzers and liquors to please everyone. For wines, always have a sparkling wine like La Marca Prosecco, and select a Rose.¬† For white wine, I like to have both Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio as I have found if a guest likes white wine, it’s either a Chardonnay or a Pinot Grigio. And for red wine, I like to have a lighter red like a merlot or zinfandel, maybe a Pinot Noir, and then a cabernet sauvignon. If I have time I will make a red, rose or white sangria with lots of colorful in-season fruit! As for beer, always have a lite option along with a little heartier beer that could be seasonal, like a Sam Adams Winter Lager. Now that seltzers are very popular, you can select any brand’s variety pack. And always have plenty of mixers like tonic, seltzer, ginger ale, coca cola, cranberry and orange juice.


I feel having a selection of bar glasses for each type of drink is important. Believe it or not, how a beverage is served can alter the taste of the beverage! Whiskey and bourbon should be served in short low-ball glasses if served straight up (neat) or on ice, and vodka and gin can be served in a highball glass if served with a mixer. Wine can be served in a stemmed or non-stemmed glass these days, and typically a large round glass is used for reds, and taller less wide glasses are for white, sparkling and rose. If you can serve beer in chilled beer glasses that’s a plus, but as long as the beer is cold, our of the bottle or can many of us aren’t very particular. And having martini or margarita glasses make for an elegant drink experience! Of course, plastic cups work wonderfully for a really large get together, especially when there are many children in attendance. (I will have a permanent marker for the kids to write their name on their cups to avoid waste, but beware the marker doesn’t get in the wrong hands!)


There are always some guest who enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea at the end of the party, so I always have a pot of coffee brewing (usually decaf these days), a selection of teas, and sugar ,artificial sweeteners and cream. I have the coffee cups ready so my guests can help themselves. At times I will circulate the rooms with a tray of coffee and tea so my guests don’t have to stop their conversations.

Coffee and tea for party

So I hope this helps you to entertain more at home, and enjoy the experience of being with your guests! Although I do set up a self-service bar, I try to keep an eye on my guests when they need refills, making sure they aren’t shy about enjoying the party beverages!

Until next time,

Let’s get cookin’ and bartendin’


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