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Host a Happy Coffee Hour

Julie Hartigan
Host a Happy Coffee Hour
There’s nothing like savoring a cup of coffee after dinner or at the end of a great party. Why not take it up a notch this holiday season with a gourmet coffee hour?

Location, Location, Location. You want your coffee hour to be a cozy spot for after-dinner lingering and chatting.

Do: Choose a single place to set up a self-serve coffee bar where guests will be relaxing; maybe a side table in the dining room if you plan to linger at the table, or a small folding table in the living room for fireside coffee time.
Don’t: Forget to check for nearby outlets and extension cords! You may need to plug appliances in.

Gather Your Gear: Plan ahead to make sure you have everything you need to serve hot drinks for a crowd well in advance of your event.

Do: Consider how many guests you’ll be serving. Use a large percolator or thermal carafes to serve a crowd and keep beverages hot. A single-serve coffee maker works great for a small group or in a tight space.
Don’t: Forget to make sure you’ve got enough coffee (single-serve packets too), decaf, and tea options available. Cocoa is a fun addition too—especially if there will be kids at your party.
Do: Use your good teacups and saucers, creamer, and sugar bowl from your china.  Hey, if there’s ever a time to break them out it’s now!
Don’t: Factor out disposable hot cups. They’re easy cleanup for a crowd, available in holiday colors and patterns, and also let guests take their coffee on the road.

Party Prep: You’ll be able to relax with your guests if you set the coffee bar up in advance.

Do: Organize your coffee bar for a logical flow of traffic. Place mugs, teacups, or disposable cups at one end; followed by percolators, thermal carafes, or the single-serve setup next; and place all the extras (creamer, sugar, artificial sweetener, spoons) at the end. Have some fun with the display—a tiered rack is great for coffee pods and teabags look adorable stacked in a pretty organizer box.
Don’t: Forget to label decaf, regular, and hot water so guests can help themselves. Placecards or gift tags will get the job done and look pretty.
Do: Decorate your coffee bar. Use a holiday tablecloth to hide a folding table, add some cute holiday decorations or party lights above, place a tall display of poinsettias or flowers on the table. They’ll add impact and create a fun and festive look.
Don’t: Leave guests without a spot to place dirty spoons—a saucer or two will do.

Make it Extra Memorable:  Now that you’ve got the basics down, try some of our easy ideas to take your coffee bar from standard to special.

Do:  Arrange a variety of flavored syrups or liqueurs on a tray so guests can concoct their own gourmet drinks. Vanilla and Hazelnut flavor syrups, Kahlua, whiskey, Baileys, Frangelico, rum, crème de menthe, and anisette are all popular options.
Don’t: Forget to add a few sweet extras. Think whipped cream or chocolate syrup for topping drinks, marshmallows for cocoa, or a pretty tiered stand piled with coffee treats like biscotti, after-dinner mints, or small chocolate truffles.
Do: Consider adding your espresso machine to the table (if you have one) so guests can enjoy lattes, cappuccinos, and other gourmet coffee drinks. Just be ready to lend a hand as needed.

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