Dreaming of an engagement party that’s budget-friendly, offers no-fuss set up and clean up, and promises a fun and intimate ambiance? Can’t be done, you say? And definitely not at Christmastime? Well, here’s our holiday surprise. We present an engagement party concept that’s potluck, fondue, and wine-and-cheese all wrapped up in one festive celebration—so you can enjoy the occasion instead of agonizing over the planning. See our practical entertainment tips below!
Set up Fun, Interactive Food Stations
Set the casual tone immediately by announcing the “potluck” angle of your party in your guest invitations. You may also want to read more on how to save on your invitations. [Hint: If you feel a bit awkward about this, you can tuck in a note about this to just your closest friends and family members.] Then, prepare locations in your home that can serve as food stations.
Free up a counter or island in your kitchen, perhaps, for the wine-and-cheese station. Then, set up a cozy couch and coffee table in your living room for the fondue station. Without the constraints of a formal, sit-down meal, guests will be free to mingle with one another and savor the varied party fare!
Wine and Cheese – Lay out a simple wine and cheese spread—consisting of goat cheese and smoked cheddar with a fresh loaf of crusty French bread. Pair these with your favorite wines such as a chardonnay, chianti, and pinot blanc. And offer fresh fruits, like pears, figs, and grapes, for a touch of sweetness. Serve these up on elegant sterling silver trays or wooden cheese boards.
As party guests stroll into your kitchen, greet them with a truly inviting wine-and-cheese spread that’s sure to get the party conversations going!
As an added treat for guests, craft a clever topiary made of shapely cut croutons from which they can take a piece to sample the different dips on hand. Ours are a savory goose liver paté served in a terra cotta bowl, plus a selection of three-cheese, spicy tomato, and curry dips to suit every taste.
Remember: By creating an interactive element, this adds to the fun as it allows guests to move casually from one area to another. Having the foods laid out in this serve-yourself fashion also leaves you free to interact with guests rather than being stuck in the kitchen!
Fondue – In another spot in your home, have a mini fondue table set up. Offer up different fresh fruits for dipping, such as whole strawberries; peach, pear, or apple slices; and melon balls. For variety, you may also have mini cookies, marshmallows, and bread squares on hand,as well as veggies like sliced carrots, celery, and endives. Cooked meats such as shrimp, tender beef chunks, and chicken may also be served. Read Celebrate Your Engagement With a Cozy Fondue Party for more planning tips.
At the fondue “food station,” offer a choice of sweet and savory dips to enjoy with fresh fruits, sweet tidbits, and even veggies.
Your dipping sauces can range from decadent, sweet ones such as white chocolate, caramel, and dark chocolate—to savory ones such as cheese and chili. Just be sure to have enough fondue forks to go around!
Potluck – Depending on your invite requests, some guests can volunteer to bring in a main dish, while others can bring side dishes and desserts. Display the food on a serving table elegantly covered with an embroidered table linen and finished with a pretty hurricane candle wreath arrangement as the centerpiece. [Hint: To keep things organized, you may specify a food theme—like all-American comfort food, Italian, Asian, etc.—to help guide your guests.]
Or you could opt to order the main dishes from a special restaurant or caterer (remember, no preparation or clean-up for you!). Then, simply request guests to contribute to the wine-and-cheese or fondue spreads.
Offer Guests Beverages to Warm the Heart and Soul
A festive drinks bar filled with an array of beverages from wine to tea is sure to be welcomed by everyone at this engagement party. Consider offering a variety of red and white wines such as Moscato d’Asti (dessert wine), a Rioja or Tempranillo (Spanish wines), and of course, Champagne! Depending on what you plan to serve guests, choose the wines wisely and you will find that a good bottle of wine doesn’t have to cost you any more than $15 to $20.
Have inviting warm beverages on hand, too, in keeping with the holiday season. Piping hot chocolate would be great for the little ones–especially with a side tray of toppings such as peppermint bark shavings, marshmallows, and cinnamon. Then, set out freshly brewed coffee for the adults—a bold French or Italian roast perhaps, served with their choice of sugar, cream, and coffee syrups in delicious flavors such as vanilla and hazelnut. You may even infuse the coffee with Kahlua® coffee liqueur, Bailey’s® Irish cream, or Amaretto Di Saronno® liqueur. And for those wanting tea, be sure to include some relaxing teas from Twinings’® like Ceylon Orange Pekoe, Earl Grey, and Darjeeling. Lastly, don’t forget the eggnog!
Simple Yet Stylish Decorations
Extend the holiday mood in the same casual yet elegant way with party decorations in earth tones or neutrals. For the table runners at the food stations, for instance, Christmas red may be the first choice many people make. But try an alternative color such as olive, brown, or white. You can even opt for a patterned woolen throw for the fondue set-up, or an off-white or ivory runner in rich damask or brocade for the food-and-wine display. By choosing less bold colors, your party photos won’t capture a scene overpowered by red!
Also, since the occasion isn’t a sit-down event, there’s no need for elaborate table centerpieces. A few potted poinsettia plants, topiaries, or mini Christmas trees positioned around the party areas would do just fine. Add some candlelight to the scene by placing blue-and-silver jeweled votives amidst the poinsettias—playing up the striking contrast of blue and silver against the deep red of the flowers. An added plus? These all stay on as your holiday decor for the rest of the season!
Favors with That “Ho-ho-ho!” Holiday Vibe
Jazz up the earth tones and neutrals on the scene with richly-colored fabric wraps. They turn even a simple woven box of holiday potpourri or a Christmas CD into fabulous engagement party favors!
As the party draws to a close, send your guests off with favors that speak of the holiday season:
- One-of-a-kind tree ornaments made from recycled lightbulbs covered in beads
- Iced sugar cookies with a whimsical wedding slant: decorated as a bride and groom
- Mini snowglobes presented in organza favor bags
- Save-the-date calendars—a practical gift actually for the coming year, but with your upcoming wedding date prominently marked
- Music CDs of your favorite Christmas songs in artful DIY organza sleeves
- Heart-shaped woven boxes filled with fragrant holiday potpourri
- And for the kiddie family members at the party, festive Christmas stockings filled with candies and small toys
So, who says a fun, intimate, at-home engagement party can’t be done? Our ideas above show that it can—at minimal cost, with limited fuss and mess, and during the Christmas season to boot!
Get Inspired with Our Favorite Pins
Planning a holiday wedding celebration on a budget? Based on a crisp winter green and silver palette, we’ve pinned some of the most stylish and sensible ideas onto our Pinterest board: