Celebrate the season with a Christmas cocktail

champagne'Tis the season for holiday cheer! I love hosting Christmas cocktail parties and ornament exchanges for my friends, family and co-workers, but these parties can get expensive. The bar budget alone can cost more than the food you serve, especially when you attempt to stock a full bar. My solution? I offer soft drinks, white and red wine and one signature cocktail.

The signature cocktail is festive, goes with the theme of your party, allows you time to interact with your guests (instead of mixing drinks) and saves you money. Instead of buying all kinds of alcohol and the mixers to match, you can focus on a few ingredients. Voila! An easy, stream-lined party.

Here are a few of my favorite holiday cocktail recipes that are festive, fun and won't break an already over-extended holiday budget:

The Holiday Cheer saves you money by extending your champagne. Cranberry juice is less expensive than sparkling, but adds great taste and a pretty pink color to your drink. Save even more money by using Sparkling Wine or Cava instead of traditional Champagne.

  • Champagne, sparkling wine or Cava, chilled
  • Cranberry juice cocktail, chilled
  • Fresh cranberries (optional)
Fill chilled champagne flutes half-way with cranberry juice cocktail. Fill glass to the top with champagne. Float a few cranberries on top if desired.

Cranberry Sangria is sweet, extends your bottle of wine and is the perfect match for tapas.

  • 64-ounce cranberry juice cocktail, chilled
  • 1 bottle red wine, chilled
  • 1/3 cup bottled sweetened lime juice
  • A liter bottle of lemon-lime soda
  • Frozen fruit (pineapple, strawberries, orange slices) to chill punch and garnish
Mix all ingredients in a large punch bowl. Float frozen fruit on top.

Christmas Punch has such great flavor that you can use a less expensive vodka and save a few bucks!

  • 2 cups Vodka
  • 4 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 1/2 cups lime juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • Cranberries or lime slices for garnish (optional)
Combine ingredients in a large punch bowl. Serve with ice and garnish with fresh cranberries or slices of lime.

Jingle Bells has a kick, but your party guests will love it!

  • 1 bottle raspberry vodka
  • 1 large bottle of cranberry juice
  • 1/2 bottle unflavored vodka
  • 1 can lemon-lime soda or more to taste
Pour all chilled ingredients into a large punch bowl. Serve with ice in tall glasses.

Holly Jolly Christmas Punch is a traditional Christmas treat. It looks beautiful and everyone will want to try this tropical treat!

  • 2 cups of orange juice
  • 2/3 cup of lemon juice
  • 750 ml of light rum
  • 4 oz. jar of maraschino cherries
  • 1 oz. triple sec
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 1 orange sliced into rounds
  • 1 lemon sliced into rounds
  • 8 oz. pineapple chunks
  • 1 liter soda water
In a large punch bowl, combine sugar, orange and lemon juice and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the maraschino cherries, pineapple chunks, orange and lemon slices and the alcohol if desired. Refrigerate for approximately one to two hours. Add the soda or sparkling water just before serving.

And there you have it! My recommendations for easy, super-tasty signature cocktails to make your holiday parties fast, cheap, and fun!

Jennifer Horn is a co-host on the nationally syndicated Good Day radio program heard on more than 300 stations across the country in morning drive. She hosts a weekly food newsletter with fellow Good Day personality Chef Louie DeAngelis. An accomplished sommelier, Jennifer also co-authors a weekly Food & Wine Newsletter and is a contributor on the nationally syndicated What's Cookin' Show on CRN Digital Talk Radio. Follow Jen on Twitter here.
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