How To: Host an Autumnal Cocktail Party

I cried at Trader Joes yesterday. I was picking up ingredients for Evan’s going-away party, and the cashier asked me if I was having a party and what was I celebrating. Immediate waterworks. But I needed to do that before I actually got started, because God forbid if I started uncontrollably sobbing while making crostini. Nothing would gotten done.


But back to Evan. I am so so grateful for living with my best friend these past three years. I know he is on to great things in SF, but I’m really going to miss our morning walks, Chinese and movie nights, and all the hourly support he gives me. Literally hourly.

Evan said it the best the other night with six of our friends. He looked around the table and laughed to himself and then said, “it’s going to take all of you to do what I do.” #Fact. Currently taking applications for the following positions: yoga accountability partner, midnight dog walker, grocery store runner, on-call therapist, garbage collector, dishwasher, wine buyer, hike pacer, and Instagram husband. Pay is in the form of gourmet meals, of which you have no choice, and dog fur.

I get a lot of questions about hosting bigger parties and preparing food for 20-40 people in a small space, so I thought I would do a quick run down of my prep and share some easy recipes for my fall themed party!

*Also, huge thank you to my lovely friends, esp Becca who helped me plate everything – love you all so much!

THE THEME: Autumn Abundance (lol, I just made that up.) But really a holiday cocktail party with six different tapas, all bite sized, and a signature cocktail.

Number of People: 20

THE MENU/ the only thing anyone really cares about – recipes below:

  • Signature cocktail: Bourbon (Bulleit), Reed’s Ginger Beer, Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider and fresh rosemary
  • Cheese and Charcuterie Plate (duh).
  • Elote Crostini
  • Thyme, Brie and Honey toasts
  • Butternut Squash and Kale Flatbread
  • Veg Platters with Lemon Parm dip and a Roasted Carrot Dip
  • Crisped Prosciutto and Sage, Brussel Sprout Flatbread


Flowers: Pumpkin stalks and eucalyptus; burgundy dahlias; garlands of eucalyptus (colored red and orange), decorative gourds, mini pumpkins, twinkle lights and candles.

Additional decor: garlands, napkins, cups, paper lanterns in burnished gold.

Also, clean the house – mostly normal weekend chores: take trash and recycling out, move dog crate, sweep, dust, wash all the dishes, clean the fridge, clean the bathroom. Then make the garlands and flower arrangements and put up the decorations.



8am: Hike the dogs, so the sleep and don’t bother you.

9am: Head to Trader, spend 20 mins finding a parking space

10:30am: Start cooking.

  • I started by roasting the veg bc that takes the longest, the carrots (rosemary, garlic, EVOO, S+P). and butternut squash (EVOO, S+P, Cayenne and Paprika) for the dip and pizza.
  • Set sweet potatoes aside.
  • Throw carrots in food processor with can of washed Italian beans and olive oil and blend until dip-like. Set aside.
  • Toast walnuts for the brie toasts. Set aside.
  • Crisp prosciutto and sage for pizza. Set aside.
  • Slice the baguettes for toasts/crostini. Slice two baguettes in 1/2 inch slices. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and cayenne. Toast in oven at 400 for 5 minutes until crispy, but not hard.
  • Make the elote corn and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
  • Sautee brussels and onions for the pizza topping. Set aside.

4:00pm: ASSEMBLE

  • The party was starting at 6. So at 4, it’s go time.
    • BRIE TOAST (30 toasts): Cut brie and place a square of the crostini/toast things. top each with a little thyme. Bake in oven at 375, until brie is melted. Top with half a roasted walnut and a drop of honey. Plate.
    • ELOTE CROSTINI (30 toasts): top with corn mixture and cilantro leaves. Plate.
    • SWEET POTATO and KALE PIZZA (15 pieces): Bring pizza dough to RT. Flatten out on oiled cookie sheet. Top with tomato sauce (homemade), some chopped rosemary, throw on roasted sweet potato, add chopped kale that has been massaged with olive oil, add sliced mozz, sprinkle parm and bake for 25 mins, 400 degrees, until it’s cooked. Allow to cool. Cut. Plate.
    • PROSCIUTTO PIZZA (15 pieces): Bring pizza dough to RT. Flatten out on oiled cookie sheet. Add olive oil and minced garlic. Throw on brussels and onion mix, slice mozz. Bake bake for 25 mins, 400 degrees, until it’s cooked. Add crisped sage and prosciutto. Cut and plate.
    • VEG PLATTER: Throw multicolored slice bell peppers (three), baby carrots (3/4 package), cherry tomatoes (one double box from TJs) and whatever other veg you want on a platter. Plate with the roasted carrot dip and lemon parm dip.
      • Roasted carrot dip; roast two cups chopped carrots with rosemary, olive oil, garlic, S+P until soft. Blend with olive oil and one can white beans.
      • Lemon parm dip *BIGGEST HIT OF THE NIGHT*: 3/4 c. grated parm, 1/4 c. mayo, lemon juice and zest of one lemon, minced thyme and two minced garlic cloves.
    • CHEESE AND CHARCUTERIE. We did the basics and then added three different grapes, corn bread crisps, and pumpkin raisin crackers for that autumnal vibes.
    • COCKTAILS: Chill ingredients, put out ice.
      • 1/3 bourbon, 1/3 ginger beer, 1/3 sparkling cider, over ice, rub some rosemary in the palm of your hands to release oil and top the cocktail.


  • Realize you don’t have time to shower, slap on deodorant, some dry shampoo and apply makeup like your life depends on it – lipstick for the win. Guzzle a glass of wine. Feel slightly embarrassed at how quickly you drank the wine. Pour another.
  • Put on Sylvan Esso spotify station.
  • Light candles, turn on twinkle lights, feed dogs.
  • Wipe sweat from brow.
  • Instagram.
  • IMG_3167

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