When you entertain this holiday season, whether you’re having a few friends over for a casual dinner or a houseful of guests for a formal party, make sure your drinks table is worth toasting. Here are a few tips for creating a bar or coffee service that is as stunning as it is serviceable.

A Feast for the Eyes

Make your drinks table as wonderful to look at as it is to visit. The secret to making a drinks station lovely is the same as any other killer display. Pick a fabulous focal point, use a variety of heights and textures and add luscious layers. But unlike other displays, your drinks table has to be as functional as it is beautiful. So, you’ll need to pick your accents with great care – pretty pieces that also know how to carry their weight when there’s work to be done. Here are a few of my favorites:

*If you want to hold glasses or supplies in style, a beautiful tray is a must. A tray will make the overall display look more cohesive and aesthetically pleasing.

*Chill out with a lovely ice bucket, whether you need it for ice service or to cool drinks. The photo above is of the drinks table in my living room. The glass ice bucket on the top shelf complements the bottles and decanters. I’m also a huge fan of silver and aluminum ice buckets. Want one too? Click here to see the variety we have on Nell Hill’s Online!

*Beautiful decanters and pitchers give your drinks station a touch of class. Whether it’s authentic crystal or great fakes, be sure to work in lovely glassware that will add sparkle and flash to your drinks table. Use decanters to hold liquor if you’re setting up a bar. Or, use them to hold flavored coffee syrup on a coffee bar. I just added a great group of decanters to my online store. Click here to see!

*Stately risers add drama. I think everything looks regal when placed on a riser. Cake plates, books, capitals and even plant stands make wonderful risers for drinks tables.

Formal or Casual? Dress the Table Accordingly

Will your event be formal or casual? Make sure your drink table matches the mood. If you’re throwing an elegant soiree, bring out your most beautiful pieces, including crystal and silver, polished to its highest luster. Even if your event is casual, you can still use your best pieces. I do all the time because I use any excuse to pull out the serving piece that are much to wonderful to leave locked away in a china hutch. If you want a more festive and less elegant feel for your drinks table, consider getting fun seasonal barware. Maybe some mugs emblazoned with holiday artwork? Or holiday cocktail napkins with a humorous message? Or whimsical hand towels?

Concoct a Signature Drink

Instead of trying to make your drinks table as well stocked as the corner bar, why not come up with a signature drink you can serve? It will give guests a chance to try something new and streamline your shopping list and prep time.

I’m a huge fan of sparkling wine and if I was on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people, I would serve the best Champagne at all my events. But I’m not, so I’ve found a fabulous alternative: Prosecco. The popularity of this Italian sparkling white wine has skyrocketed in the past 10 years because it offers the fun of Champagne without the high price tag. To make your glass of Prosecco even more special for a holiday event, simply drop a fresh cranberry in the bottom of each glass. It will turn the drink light pink!

Make a List and Check it Twice

It doesn’t matter how lovely your drink table is, if it’s not properly stocked, it’s not doing its job. You don’t want to have to keep running to the kitchen to restock it. So make a list of everything you’ll need to create your featured drink or for your bartender to mix up guests’ custom orders. Are there plenty of fresh cups or glasses? Spoons or stirrers? Mixers and ice?

Mix in Some Munchies

It’s no fun to drink on an empty stomach, so consider putting some munchies on your drink table. If it’s a bar, I might include a bowl filled with nuts, a three-tiered server loaded with fresh fruit or even a platter of delicious cheeses and artisan breads. If you’re setting up a hot drinks bar for coffee or cocoa, how about using a silver vase to hold candy canes? Or a dessert server filled with chocolates or fancy cookies?

Next Week … Come preview this season’s hottest colors, textures and patterns for bedding and accent pillows.

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9 Responses to “Holiday Stockings: Dressing up Your Drinks Tables”

  1. Lisa Fernandez Says:

    These are such helpful ideas Mary Carol, especially with the holidays coming. Thanks for you ideas and constant mentoring. Love them! Lisa

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    We are hosting my husband’s side of the family for Thanksgiving and this blog, in particular, is inspiring me. I think I will have more self-serve drinks and appetizers out, as well as a little hot drink/coffee bar. That should really help me out while I am preparing the meal and look festive at the same time. Thanks for the lovely pictures of gorgeous displays!

  3. Beth Reynolds Says:

    Mary Carol, Love all your ideas. I especially love the signature drink…you are right I am not the local tavern and it gets expensive trying to stock my bar…I am going for a signature drink this season! Thanks for inspiring us all….looking forward to the holidays!

  4. Paula Byrne Says:

    Gorgeous ! Thank you for all beautiful ideas.

  5. Linda Says:

    Mary Carol
    I LOVE ALL of your weekly tips.
    It is like lounging in my favorite chair, soaking up all of your creativity.
    I feel like you are a kindred spirit
    Thank you for all of your inspirations and allowing me to mix it up.
    Your books are an ongoing encouragement in timeless design

  6. Talia Says:

    Mary Carol,

    You always have such lovely ideas. I love visiting your blog and the photos are spectacular.

    Thank you for sharing!

  7. Elaine Says:

    Mary Carol…..last week I had the privilege of visiting all three of your stores. I live in a small town in Manitoba, Canada, and always wished I could include them in our holidays. Well, I have a wonderful husband who was willing to locate all the addresses and take me to them on our way to Branson, MO. What a feast for the eyes!! Your designers have done an amazing job! Thank you for all the inspiration; I really enjoy your blog. Have a blessed Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas.

  8. Katie Says:

    How lovely! I noticed that in each bar example, you’ve brought in a bit of nature: a small vase of white flowers, a lavish arrangement of red roses or a cluster of green apples. That’s a charming addition I’ll add to my cocktail display. And I’m going to rummage around for all my vintage cut-glass decanters right now…

  9. Patti Says:

    Mary Carol, just found your blog from a Pinterest link. Looking forward to following you! I own a Tea Event Catering Company in Akron, Ohio and would love to know where the tiered server is in your “Feast for the Eyes” photo above. I would be honored to have you follow our Facebook Business Page “Tea & Thyme” https://www.facebook.com/Teaandthyme. I will share your blog with all of our Tea Friends and Followers.

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