Last-Minute Holiday Cocktail Party

No time to prep for company? No worries. These speedy recipes and simple decorations will make your home fete-ready in a flash.

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, ©

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, Camille Styles ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Right Reserved.

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, ©

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, ©

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, ©

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, ©

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, ©

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, ©

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, ©

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, ©

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, ©

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, ©

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, ©

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, ©

Festive in a Flash

Though the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, it's no secret that they can also be the most stressful. Between endless events, crowded stores and planned travel, the thought of hosting your own party can often seem daunting. But we show you how you can invite friends over during the holidays and be relaxed with a chic affair that can be thrown together at the last minute.

Your Party Plan: 5 Ingredients

To throw this party you'll need five essential ingredients: gold spray-painted elements from nature, holiday knick-knacks, assorted ornaments, hors d'oeuvres and cocktail glass labels.

Out on a Limb

You don't need an eight-foot-tall fir to get into the holiday spirit. Snip branches from your yard and assemble them in a large glass container for a tabletop "tree" that's just as festive. Ornaments can include anything from classic glass balls, to tassles or even items from your jewelry box like necklaces and earrings. Scraps of fabric trim, ribbon and chains are perfect for draping as well.

Deck the Halls

Think beyond wreaths and misteltoe for your spirited wall decor. Virtually anything can be strung onto kitchen twine to create a decorative detail. Cut scraps of fabric into triangles and spell out a cheerful holiday message with a marker or fabric paint (if you have it on-hand), or wrap twine around pine cones for a touch of the great outdoors.

Free For All

Adorning the bar is a breeze when you embrace a Bohemian scheme — anything goes. Reach into your collection of holiday knick-knacks and heirloom Christmas trinkets, and arrange them liberally in your party space. Vintage Christmas tins, nutcrackers, stockings and snow globes of varying colors and styles are all fair game.

Glitz + Glam

Everything looks better with a splash of metallic. Rather than heading out to stores to purchase pricey, seasonal embellishments, create your own.

The Midas Touch

Collect pine cones, fallen leaves, acorns and branches from around your own backyard, and then spray them with a coat of gold paint for instant glamour.

Opposites Attract

Don't stress about whether your serving pieces go together. Mix and match textures, colors and shapes like wood grain boards, white serving bowls and solid colored containers for a casual, unfussy look.

Easy Cheesy Crostini

The menu is often the most prohibitive factor when it comes to hosting. Lighten your load by serving appetizers that can be assembled rather than cooked, like honey, walnut and goat cheese crostini that take just five minutes to prepare.

Get the Recipe: Honey Walnut Goat Cheese Crostini

She Sells Shells

Storebought puff pastry is the last-minute host's special weapon. Turn out elegant apps in no time by filling the shells with spinach and cheese (an easy party win). Serve on a long platter or cutting board.

Get the Recipe: Cheese and Spinach Puff Pastry Pockets


Jazz up jarred olives by mixing them with some spices and citrus and roasting in the oven for an hour. Or, turn a jar of plain, unsalted nuts into the sort of sweet, spicy party mix you'd find at a gastropub.

Get the recipes:

Spicy Roasted Olives

Spiced Bar Nuts with Orange Bitters

Get the Recipe: Spiced Bar Nuts with Orange Bitters

Fruity, Fizzy Fun

Serve the quintessential holiday cocktail as your signature drink so you don't have to worry about stocking a full bar. Sparkling wine with cranberries and oranges will have broad appeal. Welcome guests to bring their own beverages as well.

Get the Recipe: Cranberry, Orange and Prosecco

Grab a Glass, Any Glass

Mix and match glassware, but help partygoers keep their drinks straight with cheerful little name tags. Download these printable drinks labels and tie them onto stemware for easy drink identification all party long.

Click here to download the printable drink label template.

All Together Now

The final detail: Small plates and colorful napkins enable a standing-room-only gathering and pick up on those bright colors in the signature cocktail.