1. Set up a Self-Serve Station
Choose a cocktail (here it’s the Sparkling Singapore Sling Punch, but it could be something simpler like gin and tonics or wine spritzers), then arrange the ingredients in a spot away from the kitchen so guests can get the party started while you finish cooking. Set out garnishes like fruit slices, citrus twists or cocktail confetti: Take a well-washed hole punch to apple peels or thin citrus skins (like clementines) to toss in your drinks.
2. Make a Scent-erpiece
Pour an inch of uncooked rice, lentils or beans in a small glass. Add a drop of liquid extract (like vanilla), then nestle a votive in the filling. As the wax heats up, the scent will fill the room. If you don’t like scented candles near food, put the candles in the living room.
3. Play a Matching Game
Got a bunch of takeout chopsticks in your junk drawer? Decorate the ends using washi tape, markers or nail polish, using a different color or pattern for each pair. (This is a good way to keep the kids busy while you cook.) Put one of each pair in a jar and put its mate at a place setting. Guests choose a chopstick from the jar and when they find the matching chopstick, they’ve found their seat!
4. Upcycle your recyclables
Check your recycling bin and pull out any pretty bottles, cans or jars. Give them a good scrub and use as vases or utensil caddies.
5. Draw everyone to the table
Run parchment down the length of your table. Set out colored pencils and crayons so the kids (and grown-ups, let’s be honest) can entertain themselves with old-school games like hangman and tic-tac-toe.