ideas for hosting a casual viewing party

Ideas for Hosting Casual Viewing Parties

As you’ve probably noticed by now, the easiest way for me to host something is to make sure it’s small and easy rather than large and extravagant. That seems pretty obvious, but seriously guys, you can dress up any little gathering as a party and practice your hosting. Do you have any favorite TV shows or a movie you spend all day texting your friends about? Why not invite them over? Here’s my favorite part of casual viewing parties: there’s no reason to decorate. I mean, you’re all going to be facing the TV the whole time. If you want to jazz that up, go ahead, but your co-viewers might get annoyed. Just saying.

casual viewing parties
Too much? Or just improper bow placement?

 

Casual Viewing Parties: Get in and Get Out

You could serve popcorn and be done with it. If you have a weekly viewing party for a show, maybe that’s all you should do. Do you really need to impress your friends every week? There’s the opposite approach, like those insane Walking Dead-style parties where everything is themed. That’s too much work for me, plus I think they must party longer than the one-hour show lasts. If I’m inviting you to watch one show or one movie, I don’t want you there more than an hour before, and you better be gone an hour after. It’s nothing personal; I’ve got stuff to do. If you’re like me, make this clear in your text or email invitation. Luckily, most of my friends won’t have time to stay longer anyway. I’m not the only one who constantly says, “I’m too busy.”

The Fun Part

I’m not decorating for a viewing party, but I think only popcorn is boring. So what exactly am I going to do to impress people without going overboard? I’m going to pick either one dish or one drink to tie it all together and call it a day. For my example, I’m using a Shonda Rhimes show. Anyone watch How to Get Away with Murder? If not, here’s a quick breakdown: They try to get away with murder.  There, you’re all caught up! This might just be one example, but feel free to hit the comments up with more, or contact me if you can’t come up with anything for your favorite show. I think about these things while I climb up and down the stairs fifty times to amuse my son.

Special Food:

Philly Cheesesteak Sliders

Why? The show takes place in Philadelphia.  Since Philly is known for their food, I might as well take advantage of it. Were you thinking I’d suggest something that looks bloody since I’m using a show about murder? Nah. It’s not a murder party. It’s a viewing party. No one needs to think of dead bodies as they’re eating. Also, I linked to a pretty good recipe for sliders, but to make it even easier I’ll just cook everything at once in a skillet and call it a day.

Special Drink:

 

Vodka Tonic 

Why? The main character is an alcoholic and she chugs vodka straight like nobody’s business. Because I don’t want to serve straight vodka, a vodka tonic is a super easy solution. My home bar always has vodka in it, mostly because we don’t drink it, but it pretty much guarantees I won’t have to go to the liquor store. Sigh. I just got homesick for Nevada. It sure was nice buying liquor in Walmart.

These ideas for casual viewing parties are pretty simple, which is exactly the way I like it. Don’t have TV? You could always try a mini-wine tasting instead. Don’t drink? I don’t know what to tell you. Tupperware party? Or, everyone’s favorite, the game night. I’ll add that to my list of things to host.

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Recipe for a Honey Whiskey Pear Drink

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My sister created this recipe for a honey whiskey pear drink during a mixology competition at my house. That’s one of my favorite parties to throw. You know why, right? Because I don’t have to do all the work. I only have to provide a space and my own little entries. Even the cleaning takes care of itself, since most guests will bring their own dishes or something disposable. It’s also a fun way to get rid of things you have too much of. For example, the whiskey my husband drinks kept trying to push honey whiskey on us by attaching mini-liquor bottles to what we wanted. We built up quite the collection. What we were going to do with that? Drink it? No. We were going to have a competition instead. So, drink up, and host your own competition!

Honey Whiskey Pear Drink

 

1 part pear liqueur
2 parts honey whiskey
2 parts Sprite or Club Soda
Thyme
Pepper

  1. Pour pear liqueur, honey whiskey, a sprig of thyme, and soda into shaker.
  2. Fill shaker with ice (3/4) of the way full, add top and strainer, shake.
  3. Pour drink through strainer to glass; add pepper to taste.
  4. Enjoy!

For Your own Competition:

Pick an Easy Theme

Don’t ask your guests to do anything too specific unless you know they have all the ingredients, or you’re going to purchase everything for them. If someone invites me to an eggroll cook-off, I might go, or I might just order Asian and watch TV on my couch. Of course, if you’re only going to invite professional chefs, go ahead and attempt an Iron Chef-like challenge. Who am I to stop you? I’ve held appetizer competitions, chili cook-offs, and martini and hors do’oerves pairings to name a few themes. Those are both pretty broad. Even your non-cooking friends can probably whip up a dip or something.

Keep the Guest List Manageable

I keep these really small. I don’t have a lot of time to make up fancy invitations, figure out which group of friends would be best for this, or figure out some miraculous time when none of my intended guests have anything planned. This way I can do it on the fly. Now, if you and your friends are childless, mostly childless, and/or all work Mon-Fri, 9-5, that’s a different situation. In that case, you could easily turn this into a big shindig. But what I really like about keeping it small is if I see an opening one weekend, I can easily dial up a friend or two and act like I’m having a fancy theme party, when what I’m really having is a potluck.

Have the Right Equipment for Cook-offs or Mixology Competitions

What theme did you go with? Was it anything to do with mixed drinks? If so, you need the right bar equipment. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect your guests to bring pre-made food, but should they really be mixing a drink before they get to your house? Probably not, unless you like all your drinks served warm and/or watered down. My husband picked up this set when he was in a mixologist phase, and it hasn’t steered us wrong. It’s got everything your basic drink needs, plus it doesn’t take up too much room.

This should probably go without saying, but folks, also make sure your microwave is working if you want people to bring over precooked food. If you’re okay with being a little environmentally unfriendly, I’d also go ahead and get some paper plates and cups. It’s going to make cleanup so much easier. Of course, I do try to be a green hostess when I can, and it is possible to get paper plates that won’t live in our dumps for eternity .

To Judge or Not to Judge?

I’m calling these cook-offs and mixology competitions, but I’ll be honest here – we don’t actually judge anything at my house. We say we’re going to, and we certainly all have our favorites, but no one is competitive enough to need to declare a winner. Scratch that. We’re all too competitive – it’s quite possible we’d battle to the death to win. This is all about fun! You know your guests better than I do. Designate a judge if you want, or just spend the day patting each other on the back for your creativity.

But Beth, you say. That recipe for the honey whiskey pear drink. Didn’t you say it was the winner of a competition? Well, yes, but we selected our “winner” long after the competition was actually over, just so I’d know which one to post. It’s based on this amazing appetizer recipe we like, so feel free to serve with bacon. Overall, this really is such an easy way to entertain! It’s almost like tricking people into believing you’re them a party, when really they’re doing just as much work as you are. I hope you give the honey whiskey pear drink a try, and feel free to share any amazing recipes you come up with at your own parties.