Fun and easy desert-Mex party
Why: Bright colors, easy food everyone loves, and a surprising alternative to eggnog.
Plan for three to four drinks per person for a two- to three-hour party, and offer pitchers of chilled water garnished with fresh citrus slices, basil, or mint, as an alternative.
Recipe: Cranberry Margaritas
Cool cocktail Lager-style beers (try Session from Full Sail Brewing Co., in Hood River, Oregon) or extra pale ales (try Steelhead from Mad River Brewing Co., in Humboldt County, CA)
Color scheme + decor idea Blue and yellow + drumsticks (Craspedia globosa) in tea tins
Fun activity Follow tree-trimming with a mah-jongg marathon
Thoughtful favor Personalized fortune cookies (from 41 cents each; personalized-fortune-cookies.com)
Cool cocktail Sparkling wine. Try a classic brut style―a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, such as Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut 2004 (Green Valley of Russian River Valley; $33)
Color scheme + decor idea Red and brown + tissue-paper flowers (fan-fold tissue paper and secure with pipe cleaner “stems”)
Fun activity Compare notes during cheese and chocolate tastings
Thoughtful favor Decorative notebooks for guests to record their favorite flavors
Cool cocktail Tangerini (martini made with tangerine or blood orange juice)
Color scheme + decor idea Turquoise and gold + metal lanterns with piercework details (from $7.99; worldmarket.com)
Fun activity Shimmy the night away with a belly-dancing instructor (or how-to DVD)
Thoughtful favor Gift box of dried fruit and nuts