All you really need to throw a solid party is booze and a bag of chips, obviously.
But, in case you want to get ~fancy~ with a theme, here are drink and snack combos along with a playlist, dress code, and game suggestions for each. Cheers!
Pizza Bread + Boozy Basil Limeade
Pull-Apart Pepperoni Breads
Without cutting all the way to the bottom, slice a crosshatch pattern in the top of 2 medium (1 lb.) loaves of country bread. Mix 2 sticks of softened unsalted butter (1 cup) with 2 tsp. each dried oregano and dried basil; season with salt and pepper. Dividing evenly between the loaves, spread the herb butter into all the cuts, then insert 1 lb. sliced low-moisture mozzarella and 12 oz. sliced pepperoni into the cuts, making sure to distribute the cheese and pepperoni evenly.
Brush the loaves with any remaining herb butter and then wrap each loaf in aluminum foil. Bake the loaves at 350º F wrapped up for 25 minutes, and then with the top unwrapped for 5 to 10 minutes more, so the cheese starts to brown and bubble. Serve hot.
Mix 3 cups dry gin and 1½ cups each fresh lime juice and simple syrup (below) in a pitcher. This can be done up to 2 days ahead of time.
When it's time to serve drinks, put out the gin mixture, a big bowl of chopped basil and some ice. To make one gimlet, shake ½ cup of the gin-lime mixture with a small handful of the basil and ice. Strain into a glass and garnish with a lime slice and more basil.
How to make simple syrup: Combine 1½ cups each granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stir and remove from the heat. Let cool and then use as directed. Simple syrup will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Spinach Artichoke Dip + Spiced Apple Cider
Mulled Ginger-Apple Cider
Slice 1 apple thinly crosswise (like, across the equator) so that the center forms a star pattern. Remove the seeds. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the apple slices with with 1 gallon fresh apple cider (preferably unpasteurized), ½ cup roughly chopped fresh ginger, 3 cinnamon sticks, 10 whole cloves, 5 whole allspice, and 1 thinly sliced orange. Cook on high heat for 3-4 hours, or on low heat for 6-8 hours. Spike each serving with 1½ oz. dark rum.
Crockpot Spinach Artichoke Dip
Put 3 cups chopped artichoke hearts, 1 lb. cream cheese, one 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, 8 oz. shredded part-skim mozzarella, 1 cup each grated parmesan and mayonnaise, and 2 chopped garlic cloves in a slow cooker. Season with a teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours or high for 2 hours, stirring at the end. Serve from the slow cooker (set to "warm") with crackers.
Gin and Jam + PB&J Dip
Gin and Jam Cocktails
Combine 3 cups gin, 1½ cups lemon juice, and ¾ cup grape jam in a pitcher or jar. To make each cocktail, shake a little less than 1/2 cup of the mixture with ice until very chilled and then strain into a glass. Serve each with a spoonful of peanut butter.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Dip
Combine 2 cups creamy peanut butter, 8 oz. softened cream cheese, and 1 cup each powdered sugar and heavy cream in a large bowl. Mix with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scoop the dip into a serving bowl and then swirl with ⅓ to ½ cup strawberry jelly and chopped peanuts. Serve with Ritz crackers, Nilla Wafers, or graham crackers.
Do ahead: The dip (without the jelly) can be made up to 4 days in advance. Refrigerate in an airtight container and bring to room temperature before serving.
Boozy Eggnog + Mini Biscuit Sandwiches
Eggnog Rum Punch
Mix 6 cups eggnog, 2½ cups dark rum, and 1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract in a punch bowl. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with 2 tsp. ground nutmeg.
Ham and Biscuits With Herbed Butter
Cut 24 1½-inch circles from 1 lb. biscuit dough using a cookie cutter. (Reroll any scraps until you get 24 biscuits). Brush with a beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with flaky sea salt and black pepper. Bake the biscuits on a baking sheet according to package or recipe directions.
Meanwhile, mix together 1 stick (½ cup) soft unsalted butter with ⅓ cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as chives, parsley, and dill). Season with salt and pepper. Split the biscuits in half and spread them with the herbed butter. Sandwich the biscuits with ¾ lb. deli ham.
Smoky Grapefruit Margs + Loaded Nachos
Smoky Grapefruit Margs
Combine 3 cups each mezcal and grapefruit juice, 1 cup granulated sugar, and ½ cup lime juice in a large pitcher and stir well to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes or refrigerate up to overnight to let the flavors meld.
Just before serving, fill a shallow bowl with water. On a plate, mix 2 Tbsp. salt and 1 Tbsp. chile powder. Dip the rim of a glass in the water, then roll the rim in the chile salt. Repeat with 11 more glasses. Fill the glasses with ice, then divide the grapefruit-mezcal mixture between them. Serve with lime wedges, if you want.
Loaded Chorizo Nachos
Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread a 9 oz. bag of tortilla chips on top. Top with two 16 oz. cans refried beans, 6 oz grated cheddar and then another 9 oz. bag of tortilla chips. Top with two 4 oz. cans mild or hot diced chiles, 8 oz. sliced cured chorizo, and 6 oz. grated cheddar. Season with salt and pepper and bake at 350º F until the beans are hot and the cheese is melted, 18 to 22 minutes. Dollop with 1 cup each guacamole and pico de gallo salsa and then sprinkle with cilantro. Eat immediately.
Salami Toasts + Jalapeño Picklebacks
PBR and Spicy Picklebacks
Divide 2 cups pickled jalapeño brine between shot glasses and top each with a pickled jalapeño. Serve with 12 12-oz. cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Salami, Pesto, and Ricotta Crostini
Slice 1 large baguette on the bias to get 24 pieces. Put the baguette slices on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush both sides of the bread with 3 Tbsp. olive oil and then season with salt and pepper. Bake at 425º F until the bread is golden brown and crisp (but still a little soft on the inside), 8 to 10 minutes. Now you have ~crostini~.
Spread 1 cup ricotta on the crostini, then top with ½ cup pesto, and 4 oz. thinly sliced salami, dividing all ingredients evenly among the crostini. Season with salt and pepper, and eat immediately.
Do Ahead: The crostini are best the day they're made, but you can bake the bread up to 8 hours ahead. Store in an air-tight container until you're ready to assemble and serve.
Spiked Kids Drinks + Homemade Bagel Bites
Spiked Kids Drinks
Serve assorted kids drinks (such as Sunny D, Capri Sun, and Kool-Aid Bursts) with 12 mini tequila and rum alcohol nips.
PRO TIP: If you want to use the Capri Sun straw to drink your juice-tail, cut a small hole in the top corner of the bag to pour the alcohol in, then tape it shut with duct tape.
Homemade Bagel Bites
Cut 12 mini bagels in half and place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Dividing evenly, top the bagels with 1 cup marinara sauce, 8 oz. shredded part-skim mozzarella, and 4 oz. mini pepperoni slices. Season with salt and pepper and then bake at 350º F for 17 to 22 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Eat hot!
Ginger-Sherry Spritzers + Crispy Spiced Chickpeas
Ginger-Turmeric Sherry Cobblers
Make Ginger-Turmeric Simple Syrup: Combine 1½ cups water, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 sliced lemon, one 2-inch piece of fresh ginger (peeled and thinly sliced), and 1 tsp. ground turmeric in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool. Strain the syrup and let cool. Use right away or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
To serve: Mix the cold syrup with 4 ½ cups dry sherry (such as fino or amontillado) in a pitcher. Serve ½ cup portions in collins glasses filled with crushed ice. Top with soda water (optional), and garnish each glass with a stalk of mint and a lemon slice.
Crispy Spiced Chickpeas
Drain and rinse four 15-oz. cans of chickpeas. Spread out on two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets and bake in a 400º F oven for 10 minutes, until very dry. Toss the chickpeas with ½ cup olive oil and 1 Tbsp. curry powder (dividing between the sheets), season generously with salt and pepper, and return the baking sheets to the oven. Bake, tossing every 10 minutes, until the chickpeas are crispy, 25 to 35 minutes.
Bacon Bloody Marys + Cheesy Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Spicy Devils on Horseback
Soak 36 toothpicks in a bowl of water for 15 minutes (to prevent burning). Meanwhile, using 1 lb. bacon, slice each strip into thirds horizontally and set aside. Stuff 36 pitted dates with 6 oz. crumbled blue cheese, dividing the cheese evenly among the dates. Wrap each date with a slice of bacon. Season with salt and 2 tsp. crushed chile flakes. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 400º F until the bacon is crispy and the cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm, sprinkled with (optional) parsley.
Bacon-Infused Spicy Bloody Marys
Mix 7 cups Spicy Bloody Mary Mix (below) and 3 cups Bacon-Infused Rye (below) in a pint glass. Serve over ice in 12 glasses and garnish each glass with a celery stalk, olives, and a slice of cooked bacon.
Combine 2 Tbsp. bacon fat (you can make this by cooking a few strips of bacon in a skillet and collecting the fat that renders off) and one 750ml bottle rye whiskey in a large tupperware container. Let sit overnight, then place in the freezer for 4 to 6 hours, until the fat freezes and you can easily strain it out. Discard the bacon fat and return the rye to the original bottle.
Spicy Bloody Mary Mix
Makes 7 cups
In a large bowl, mix 6 cups tomato juice, ¼ cup each jarred horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, fresh lemon juice, and pickle brine (the liquid in a pickle jar), 2 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce, 2 tsp. celery seed, and 1 tsp. garlic powder.
Peppermint Cocoa + Chocolate Pudding
Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Whisk 1 cup granulated sugar and ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder in a large pot. Slowly add 8 cups half-and-half in a steady stream, whisking to make a paste that's well combined.
Warm the mixture over medium-low heat, until just a few bubbles are starting to appear, 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, put 12 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Pour the warm cocoa mixture over the chocolate and let sit 2 minutes. Whisk until the chocolate is melted. Return to the pot and heat to serve, or cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To reheat, warm over medium-low heat. Serve topped with whipped cream and crushed peppermint candies.
Chocolate Puddings With White Chocolate and Peppermint-Dipped Pretzels
Put 6 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate in large bowl, and set a fine-mesh strainer on top; set aside. Whisk 3 large egg yolks and 1 cup whole milk in a large heatproof bowl. Set aside.
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk ½ cup granulated sugar, ¼ cup each unsweetened cocoa powder and cornstarch, and ½ tsp. salt. Slowly pour in 3 cups whole milk and whisk until smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture is starting to steam but not simmer, 5 to 7 minutes. In a slow, steady stream, pour the hot mixture into the egg-milk mixture, whisking constantly.
Pour everything back into the saucepan, and bring the pudding to a boil over medium-high heat. (5 to 7 minutes) Stir constantly! Cook for 2 minutes, stirring nonstop, until the pudding has become thick and is bubbling. Pour through the fine mesh strainer onto the chopped chocolate. Let sit 2 minutes, then whisk until very smooth and stir in 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding, and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Divide the pudding between individual serving cups and serve with 12 White Chocolate and Peppermint Dipped Pretzels (recipe follows).
White-Chocolate and Peppermint Dipped Pretzels
Microwave 6 oz. chopped white chocolate in 15 second bursts, stirring in between, until melted. Dip a pretzel rod into the melted chocolate so that the chocolate coats about 2 inches of the pretzel. Wait about 10 seconds, then roll in ¼ cup crushed candy canes. Repeat with 11 more pretzel rods, placing them on a parchment-lined baking sheet as you go. Freeze until the chocolate is solid, about 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Big-Batch Old Fashioneds + Smoky Deviled Eggs
Big-Batch Old Fashioneds
Mix 3 cups Bourbon, 2 Tbsp. Angostura bitters, ½ cup maraschino cherries, 1 sliced orange, and 1 cup sugar cubes in a large bowl or jar. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days, then strain. (The longer it marinates the better). Serve over ice, with a fresh orange slice and maraschino cherry.
Smoky Deviled Eggs
Put 12 large eggs in a large saucepan and cover by 1½ inches of water. Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the water just comes to a boil, take the pot off the heat and then let it sit for 10 minutes. Gently scoop the eggs into an ice bath (or run under ice water) and then peel.
Cut the eggs in half, then gently scoop the yolks into a large bowl. Mash the yolks with ¼ cup mayonnaise, 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, and ¼ tsp. smoked paprika. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Scrape the egg yolk mixture into a zip-top bag and twist it to make a neat bundle. Cut a small hole in the tip of the bag and then pipe the filling into the egg whites. (You can use a fluted tip if you want them to look fancy and retro.)
Dust the eggs with more smoked paprika and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
Do ahead: The eggs can be hard-boiled up to 2 days in advance.
Pomegranate-Rosemary Sparklers + Cheesy Mushroom Tarts
Combine 2 ¼ cups St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, ¾ cup fresh lemon juice, ½ cup pomegranate seeds in a large pitcher. Divide among 12 flute glasses and top off with Champagne or another sparkling wine. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and drink!
Mushroom and Gruyère Tartelettes
Preheat the oven to 400º F. Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1½ pounds thinly sliced mushrooms, 3 finely chopped garlic cloves, and 2 tsp. chopped rosemary. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are golden brown and tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the mushrooms to a bowl so that the extra olive oil stays behind. Let the mushrooms cool to room temperature.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Unfold one 17.9-oz. package defrosted puff pastry on a floured surface. Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut circles out and place them on the baking sheets. Reroll any extra puff pastry scraps and cut out more pastry until you have 24 circles total.
Beat an egg yolk with some water and then brush each circle with the mixture. Divide the mushrooms among the circles, then top with 6 oz. grated Gruyère cheese. Bake until the puff pastry is golden brown and flaky and the cheese is melted and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot.
Green Juice and Vodka + Lemony Kale Dip
Green Juice and Vodka
Mix 6 cups cold green juice (such as Evolution fresh juices) and 1½ cups chilled vodka in a large pitcher. Serve in martini glasses, garnished with a kale leaf.
Steam two 10-oz. bags frozen chopped kale and one 10-oz. bag frozen peas according to package directions. Let cool to room temperature, then puree in a food processor or blender with ½ cup Greek yogurt, ¼ cup each olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and water. Season with salt and pepper, then refrigerate until cold. Scoop the dip into a serving dish, then top with a swirl of additional Greek yogurt and olive oil. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and season with salt and pepper.