Host How I Host: Carrie Cowan

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Hosts with imaginations all their own

Contributor to The Bar

"Details. Details. Details! Bringing in a few will set any event apart from the rest."

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What's your process for planning a gathering in your home?

We follow our easy how-to hosting guide to be sure that everything goes off without a hitch! First and foremost, figuring out the mood or vibe of your event will set you up for planning success. Create a mood board that pulls together colors, themes and even dishes, cocktails and décor. It is a great visual reference, and you can add or nix images along the way as you hone in on the facets of your event.

What are your go-to party activities or games to break the ice?

We love to work in a fun DIY bar moment, such as a mimosa bar, spritz bar, etc. with spirits, mixers, garnishes and even fun glassware or bar accessories. Guests can mix up their own concoctions and break the ice by chatting with others about their drinks of choice.  

If you are looking to go a step further with planned activities or games, be sure to introduce them a little later on, after some mingling or following dinner and dessert. Activities should be relevant to the occasion and simple or easy to play. For example, a fun game of charades or Pictionary is a great group game for adult dinner parties, while something like cornhole or horseshoes works well at a backyard summer barbecue.

"Activities should be relevant to the occasion and simple or easy to play."

If you had a limited budget to put together a small dinner party, what would you focus on for the tablescape?

Flowers! Incorporate a simple, store-bought bouquet on the table. Flowers are the easiest way to pull things together, and you can find some nice seasonal arrangements at your local grocery store.

What makes a great gathering memorable?

Details. Details. Details! Bringing in a few details will set any event apart from the rest. Incorporate colored glassware, fun cocktail napkins and offer garnishes for drinks. Speaking of drinks, a signature cocktail goes a long way. Rename a classic, put a seasonal spin on a classic or create a cocktail from scratch, and offer it as guests arrive. Even if they decline, it sets a welcoming tone and creates an elevated vibe. Not sure where to start? We have a how-to guide to build a signature cocktail.

"A signature cocktail goes a long way. Rename a classic, or put a seasonal spin on one."

If someone is feeling overwhelmed by hosting their friends in their home, what tips would you give them?

  1. Stock the bar and everything else will fall into place! Make sure your bar setup is easily accessible so guests can make—and remake—their own drinks and cocktails. Here is our full guide to a well-stocked bar.  
  2. Accept help! If someone asks to bring something, let them. Dish out food duties or let them bring the ice. You will have less things to shop for and, trust us, they want to help!
"An empty dishwasher, trash can, recycling bin, etc. will make your (hosting) life much easier."

Favorite recipe or food to serve when hosting?

We love a good grazing board with an assortment of sweet and savory snacks like cheeses, meats, crackers and fruit. Throw in some dips and veggies for a well-rounded display. Why we love it? It is easy to make and even easier to refill.

What is the soundtrack to a dinner party in your home? Have any favorite playlists?

We love to curate songs based on the occasion. A pre-prepped playlist automatically makes things feel more thoughtful. A casual cocktail party calls for classic hits while a girls’ night in requires girly jams and a summer barbecue might work best with some “Yacht Rock.” See what we are listening to via The Bar on Spotify.

"Create a mood board that pulls together colors, themes and even dishes, cocktails and décor."

What is your favorite partytrick?

Start with a clean hosting space! An empty dishwasher, trash can, recycling bin, etc. will make your (hosting) life much easier.

About our host

The Bar helps you elevate everyday moments at home to experiences worthy of a toast with a top-shelf selection of spirits, cocktail kits, barware, experiences and inspiration.

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