If I had a nickel for every time Rich told me roughly 45 minutes ahead of time that he had invited people over to our place for drinks, well, Jeff Bezos would not be the richest person in the world. Don’t get me wrong, we both (myself very much included!) absolutely love to entertain, but given my husband’s affinity for extremely last minute soirées, we’ve developed an arsenal of key pieces to have on hand for pulling off the perfect cocktail party in a pinch. Below, I’m breaking down the nine key essential serving pieces you need so that all that’s left to do is a five-minute run to the corner grocery for some cheese, veggies and hummus. Oh, and get booze. It’s generally bad form to invite people over for cocktails and not serve any actual cocktails.
9 Essential Serving Pieces Every Host Needs
1. Chip and Dip
We received this Nambé chip and dip set as a wedding gift, and it’s been one of the most heavily-used items in our line-up of serveware pieces when entertaining. I’m such a huge fan of Nambé’s sleek designs and amazing quality (these pieces still look brand new!) so I’ve bought several additional pieces since our wedding. Chief among them is this Nambé scoop server from Macy’s because let’s face it, the more dips the merrier. Both sets are perfect for chips and salsa, hummus and veggies, spinach and artichoke dip, you name it.
3. Serving Tray
A serving tray is your entertaining jack-of-all-trades BFF. Sometimes we serve drinks on it, sometimes we use it for serving hors d’oeuvres, and sometimes we play frisbee with it in the living room when the conversation gets stale. It does all the things. Whether you need a place to rest bar tools, don’t know how else to serve and display your favorite pigs in a blanket, or are even looking for a chic centerpiece, get yourself a serving tray.
4. Small Serving Bowls
I’m telling you, you can never have enough small serving bowls. I’m addicted to Nambé and their beautiful pieces with subtle braiding details, so obviously had to go for the bowls that match my chip and dip because… have you met me? They can hold nuts, dips, pita chips, candies, other small bites, everything. I think I have at least 6 of these and I still always seem to be running out of them.
5. Wine Glasses
Having cocktail glasses is always a plus, but when in a pinch you can totally use your everyday glasses for mixing a cocktail and no one will punch you in the face. Wine on the other hand? You just can’t hand company a glass of Pinot in the same glass that holds your morning O.J. I have (and LOVE) these Riedel Vinum wine glasses because they’re top-notch quality crystal, but—plot twist—they’re one of the few crystal wine glasses that are DISHWASHER SAFE. [Insert all of the praise hands emojis here.]
6. Barware Set (+ wine openers and bottle openers!)
Pro tip: If you’re throwing a party and buying a bunch of booze, best to make sure you can actually open aforementioned booze. This rabbit wine opener was another wedding gift. This one of the essential serving pieces completely removes the awkward red-faced grunting that typically accompanies trying to muscle open wine bottles. More recently, I got this barware set from Macy’s that has all of the other cocktail party necessities—knife, bottle opener, double jigger (aka fancy shot glass), strainer (hellooooo dirty martinis), and shaker.
7. Cocktail Napkins
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that my love for tacky cocktail napkins knows no bounds. I also love a good cocktail napkin holder like this beauty from Michael Aram. It adds a little flare to the spread and also prevents napkins from sliding all over the place.
God help the soul that puts a glass down in my parents’ house without a coaster. I’m telling you, my mother will nose dive, using her body as a human shield lest one drop of liquid touch any horizontal surface in our home. Of course, now that I’m low-key adulting and have furniture that I actually care about, well… turns out the apple doesn’t fall suuuuuper far from the tree. Also, how cute are these Kate Spade coasters? Just take my money already.
9. Appetizer Plates
Trust me, appetizer plates are KEY essential serving pieces. Here’s why: if you’re serving any dips or appetizers that involve sauces and also care about your carpeting and/or upholstered furniture, for the love of guacamole, make sure you have appetizer plates at the ready. When guests are forced to awkwardly reach across a table and plunge that celery stick into a vat of sloppy dip without the safety net of an appetizer plate, odds are 50% of that slopfest is landing somewhere other than their mouth.
Thanks to Macy’s and ShopStyle for partnering on this post! Follow me on Instagram for more updates.