Emily Henderson Shares a Festive Cocktail Recipe, Plus Her 3 Rules for Holiday Entertaining


When throwing a get-together, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the unending details. We often forget that the goal is to “be a party-goer, not a party-thrower,” as interior design blogger Emily Henderson puts it. To help make holiday hosting as high-fun and low-stress as possible, Henderson stopped by the InStyle offices to chat with lifestyle editor Anne Vorrasi about the three things she does to prepare her home for any celebration.

1. Lay everything out ahead of time: Henderson prepares or buys all of the food and drink ahead of the event. To avoid playing bartender, she sets up multiple drink stations with curated ingredients so guests can fix their own cocktails.

2. Add a pop of color: The decorating pro recommends working within your color palette, but notes that there’s always room for festive accent hues. “A little bit goes a long way and you can bring it in with ornaments,” Henderson tells InStyle. “It instantly livens things up.”

3. Keep it curated: When it comes to tableware, Henderson loves playing with a mix of shapes, textures, sizes, and colors and has a secret tip to keeping it looking polished. Make sure your spread has at least one element in common, like the material or color.

Read on for her make-ahead cocktail recipe and check out the video above for more of Henderson’s entertaining tips.

RELATED: 4 Sites That Take the Stress Out of Hosting

Berry Merry Cocktail

Serves 2


6 oz IZZE Sparkling Blackberry ($21/12 bottles; amazon.com)
1 1/2 oz gin (Henderson recommends Hendricks, $30/750 ml; bevmo.com) For a mocktail, replace with either sparkling water or grapefruit juice
Small handful of fresh blackberries
Fresh mint
Splash of lime juice


1. Muddle the blackberries, mint, and lime juice.
2. Stir in gin and IZZE.
3. Pour over ice and enjoy!


[BLANK_AUDIO] Hey Facebook thanks for tuning in, I'm Anne Vorrasi the lifestyle editor at InStyle magazine and I am here with Emily Henderson. Hi Facebook. She is a designer, bloggers Stylists and all around Mum. Design expert Lady. Extraordinary. Thanks. And she's here today to give us some tips on, how to go, an elegant and super easy holiday party. I mean, I'm essentially just using what I do and making that the tips. Which is probably awesome if you've seen her blog. I don't throw that many huge fancy formal parties, but I throw a lot of get togethers. And yet they still look good, and they pull together and people Seem to have a good time. They tell me they have a good time. So I have three things I always do. And I'm revealing them to you today. Wonderful. Okay, so the first is just an overall life theme that I have is low stress, high fun. We love that. Great, and so that Obviously pertains to parties. So let's talk about drinks first because they're unfortunately for you, does the world know? The world knows that I, I think the world knows that there's a little bun in here, but. Yeah, you're gonna have a different experience but holiday cocktails, it's kind of an important part of many people's rituals. So we are going to talk about what are you for That are cocktail. So I set up three different drink stations. And I make it so I have a few different cocktails that I have already put my brain into, but then I let the guest do all of the work. So I'm today working with this amazing juice called Izzy which we are going to make, a delicious **** tail that is one of my favorites. Okay awesome. I invented it. Quite the mixologist. [LAUGH] So I should make you a Mocktail. A kid friendly version. Okay, we can do that. So- So you said you do three different stations. Are they all around the house. Yes. So you don't have to worry about them? Yes, you want to avoid a bottleneck. Yeah. And you don't want. Especially at the bar. Nobody likes a bottleneck at the bar. No. And you want people to know, feel confident that they can make their own drink, but not give them so many options that they're like, what do I do with all of these like random garnishes. So I try and pair down to have three different drinks, and then they can also just To mix Izzy with vodka or Izzy with bourbon. It's not that you don't always have to muddle blackberries and mint, although it's very fun, I will say. So that's what's happening so far, but berry mint, some lime, Delicious, and actually it's like fresh squeeze lime juice. And then this is the fun part, and you can do this in advance if you want, you dont have to do this, you would definitely do this in advance actually, cuz that way you are not standing up there being a bartender for all your guest. Yeah. Okay, so then you muddle, muddle, muddle. If you're doing a crazy huge batch, can you just throw all of this in a food processor? Yeah, mm hm. Okay, good. Yeah, that's probably what I would do but I look a lot cooler if I muddle right now. [LAUGH] And that's important on national Facebook television. Totally. And would you do different berries or is is just strictly blackberry? No, I mean, you could definitely do any. I think the blackberry is really tart and that works well with the mint and the blackberry soda. I don't know, I just think that I like how this tastes. I've tried it myself. Okay, so since you are pregnant, then do I Add some water [UNKNOWN], yeah I mean [CROSSTALK] Bubbly water. [UNKNOWN] we're gonna do this and we're gonna add [UNKNOWN] cuz for me I get a grown up drink. Yeah. [LAUGH] You can always add a little bit of [UNKNOWN]. That's true. I'm into adding [UNKNOWN] [CROSSTALK] I got to stir it It's pretty with all the mint and blackberry floating around. It is pretty. And you've got perfect sphere ice cubes, which you can see here. And those we can kinda get anywhere these days. Yeah. Yeah, okay. I love the tip of when you're making a huge punchbowl of freezing ice in Tupperware containers. And then your ice is your It goes in the punch bowl so the punch tastes cool. Yeah. It melts so slowly it doesn't dilute the drink. But it's your ice to drink too? No, but that is like even better. I think that that is smart. I have never personally done that but we should all do that. Yeah. Am I right? It's like having ice cubes in your [UNKNOWN] coffee. Yeah, so smart. Okay, I'm gonna make me one though I need more lime juice. This smells really good. Hold on do you need a straw? What flavor of IZZE is this? This is the blackberry, sparkling blackberry. Mm. So we use this with the gin, yeah this is gin everybody. And then I use the sparkling clementine with bourbon to make kind of a new fashioned we're calling it. [UNKNOWN] A little bit of maple syrup Ingredient there, so all these are thesis. So we came up with three different drinks. And they're all a little bit different and then people can, experiment too. And we can do fine the other recipes [UNKNOWN] has a lot of versions of them on their site? This will be, is that a lot? [LAUGH] [LAUGH] These will be on my blog Think next week, don't hold me to it, it might be the week after. No, it's the week after. Okay. But it's essentially blackberries, mint, lime juice muddled, then one and a half shots of the gin and Half of this bottle if you're doing just for, not just one person, but two people. Yeah, do you have a favorite gin brand? I think this is Hendricks, I think, which is Delicious, but I like bomb bay, but that kinda sounds like, I feel like I drink that in college you know. Like bomb bay and tonic. But I still really like it. All right, hold on. I think mine is really strong. [LAUGH] It's cuz I got a little nervous, and I didn't measure it perfectly. Yeah. I was so excited, cheers. Okay, cheers. All right. [BLANK_AUDIO] Yeah it's strong. I think a little more easy. Mine is so good. [BLANK_AUDIO] We have a question. Hold on, we've got a question. Kayla wants to know? I'm having a technical difficulty. Kaylee wants to know, are there any flavored sparkling waters you would use in place of booze? [BLANK_AUDIO] In place of booze? Yeah. Like, if you're not gonna have booze. For a mocktail. I mean, I really like the sparkling grapefruit.>> Mm-hm. I drink that all the time anyway And the sparkling clementine, and if you want more of a less sweet, more just kind of a sparking water, then there's a million different delicious flavors you can just drink, everyday. And this is fizzy, but you can also add like just like seltzer water or club soda to make it even more effervescent and. I don't know if you need to, but you definitely could. Cool. Any other questions, Kayla, audience? Write in. Or we can get to my second tip. Yes, let's do that. Okay so you have two different options during the holidays. You can or you have a million different options, but you can go all out and create a brand new color palate and so nuts at your house. Now I I have done that. I've been known to do that but on busy years I definitely don't and this is why I recommend from most people that aren't on daily trying to create all this content. So what I would do is work with the color pallet that you have. So in my [UNKNOWN] since I have blue's and gray's and white's And generally that's how it is year round during the spring a little bit of color and during the fall I goes like little more neutral an then the holidays that's my punch up and I do bright red's, bright pink's. I bring in this like fiery, no fiery begin as like energy that only Color can and a little bit goes a long way, and then you can bring it in and the ornaments to, and it instantly livens everything up without having to completely change out your color palette. And you're not bringing in like red and green specifically that makes super like Christmas, or like. Maybe. Maybe. No I was joking earlier that I'm, that we just bought a more traditional style house, and I always do an untraditional color palette for the holidays, and this year, I know I'm gonna bring in red. I just don't know if it's gonna be red and green, or red and I mean, it's definitely gonna feel traditional, but I would like to experiment with what a new traditional feels like, stay tuned. And you guys are renovating right now, right? Yes. So are you gonna be there in time to have a holiday party, do you think? I think so. Okay. Yeah, it may not be perfectly well to pull together, but I think the party itself with my 3 tips won't be that hard [CROSSTALK] [LAUGH] to execute. So, you know I don't do the art will be hanged on the wall. But, it will be party ready. It will still be fun. Yeah. Awesome. So yeah. And then the third tip is I was like to mix high, low, vintage and new. The key to that is always doing it within your color pallets. So for instance we have all these vintage glasses that are all clear, you see. And that's really the key. If you're gonna mix a ton of vintage things together. You don't want it to look like a thrift store. You want it to feel so curated so they only have one thing in common and in this case they're all clear. It's really simple. But they could all be a certain color palette. I think having them in different heights and shapes, And textures is always a good thing.>>Yeah.>>And then when it comes food and decor, I splurged on booze. I like to have higher in alcohol and then I get more affordable mixers like Izze. And then I also spurge on Very beautiful flowers, but I get more affordable vases. Or honestly, I just stick beautiful flowers in vases I already have or jars or glasses. You don't have to, people don't really notice the vase. They really notice the flowers. But those are the two things that I spend a little bit more money than that on. Right. We have another question from Veronica. She wants to know what your favorite party foods are. Well okay so I tend to do I need to shake it up. [LAUGH]. I do like low maintenance food too so I'll either make, not make, buy a huge vat of chili. So near our house right now there's these three dudes that make the most delicious chili. So I would just buy like why would I make it it's like down the street. But But you can make it obviously if you're a normal person. So I provide a huge vat of chili, corn bread, a ton of toppings, and you can buy it earlier in the day you can even buy it the day before no you wouldn't buy it the day before. But earlier in the day and then the food is done checked off the list. So do that I've done big lasagnas before. That I've done the day before or prebought, and then i've made a lot of easy sandwiches that keep after a few hours. So I like to put everything out. Drinks and food and do the work ahead of time. And then really just be a party-goer and not a party-thrower. That's awesome, cuz I feel like whenever I throw a party I'm always like in the kitchen stuck, making drinks, pulling out more things, like replating things, but it's good to like have everything out so that people can just like figure it out. They're all adults I think. It can be stressful, and it doesn't have to be. Really, you should have fun, and your guest wont notice If you're not having fun, they will feed off the energy and so I think the more you can just provide all the things for them to make their own fun and then you can have your own fun. That's a good party. I have one more question for you. Tell me. Holiday hostess gifts, so when you go to a holiday party what do you like to bring or what do you like to receive as the hostess? I think it's nice to give any gift, right? But if you can get a little more unique and special with them, then, that's never a bad thing. Funny you should ask, I have something for you. As a host's gift. Did you notice even? No, I didn't. Okay, hold on. We got to make space for our host's gift. So this is something I came up with as a fun way to Be a little more unique and more special. And so for me I'm gonna make a like ton of these all at once. And then you have them all. I should let you open it. Okay. Instead of me opening it up for you. This is my recipe for a drink. Perfect. We'll include this. Online too so you guys can make it at home. So it's this is a little suit case. Fresh thyme on it. With little gold detailing that you can buy online. Very nice, and the inside is Is- It smells really good. [BLANK_AUDIO] This could also be a really good happy hour kit to keep at your, it got all mixed up, hey get back in your place. It's like a little to do it myself. It's a little DIY cocktail kit. This tiny Maker's Mark bottle that my husband will enjoy. Miniatures are always very popular. We have a cocktail shaker. We have- this is for the new fashion. This is a with a sparkling clementine. And then we have the Maker's Bourbon, teeny tiny bitters. There we go. And the recipe calls for a little bit of maple syrup, so instead of putting a little bit of maple syrup in there which could be awkward. They're little maple candies, the tiniest little maple candies. And then- they're shaped like little maple leaves. It's a very pretty- Shot glass situation. Little jigger. But wouldn't you be very excited to To get this this is always a as a host yeah You think, I'm getting I'm trying to appreciate host more and more because, if you're on parties, even though I making it look easy, still, it's still effort, you're still trying yeah and so I think If you can put a little bit of time and thought into what you can bring them it's a nice thing to do. Right and it's nice to give them I think something that they can enjoy like separate from the party. Cuz wine is always safe also obviously but [CROSSTALK] Open it that minute and serve it to- Or you bring it and they don't see that you bought it and [CROSSTALK] But then that feels tacky so that you just put it on the table and nobody knows, and that's not a big deal so they would know if you bought it. This. Yeah! So.>>Awesome.>>Let me hold that so they can see.>>Thank you so much.>>Can you see it?>>The cocktail kit. Pretty.>>It doesn't work as well vertically. [LAUGH] They are all falling down.>> Well thank you so So much for being here for sharing your excellent tips with us. Thank you for having me. If you guys want to hear more about Emily's projects and some of her entertaining tips, you can check her up-check up her blogs, stylebyemilyhenderson.com. It's true. And you guys are posting things regularly about everything from decorating We post five days a week. Yeah. Yeah. So it's everything from the 35 most affordable side tables to That we love to what's happening with renovation at my house which is right now the most popular content cuz people wanna know like, what is happening? What is she doing? I love the before and after. Yeah, and it's also we're making all of this. Decisions so fast. That is terifying.>>Yeah.>> And, but, but because I'm a designer and I've done how was this. I feel like a knot making mistakes. But anyway, point is the suspense is there. [LAUGH] Yeah.>>Of how it's gonna turn out and people are watching on hold.>>Awesome.>> So if you wanna see A three month renovation, go to the blog. Awesome thank you. Thanks guys bye. Happy holidays. [BLANK_AUDIO]
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