Christmas cocktails and party food

Get the party started with some festive drinks

Wine glasses against bokeh background. New Year's celebration.

The Christmas season is a great time of year to meet up with friends and family and celebrate together. Beer and wine will keep most people happy, but cocktails (and mocktails) turn it from a few drinks into a festive party.

Whether it's classic cocktails or drinks with a festive twist, there are plenty of ways to get the party started. Plan your celebration with the recipes below, dust off (or borrow) a cocktail shaker or two and don't forget to make sure you have plenty of ice and a good supply of lemons and limes.

Champagne cocktails
Buck's fizz can be the first alcoholic drink of Christmas Day in many households (sometimes with brunch) and is simply an equal mixture of fresh orange juice and champagne. But fizz lends itself to a range of other great festive drinks including a Champagne strawberry cup, a Champagne julep or a Monte Carlo sling.

For some, adding fruit to Champagne is a waste, so pause and consider using Prosecco instead. Its sweetness often goes well with berries, for example. A Prosecco 'cocktail' can be as simple as crushing some raspberries (or whizzing some pineapple in the blender) and putting a tablespoonful of the puree in a glass before topping up with fizz. Cava also works well, but you might need to sweeten the fruit puree slightly with a little sugar or honey. And if you like the combination of fruit with rum rather than bubbles, why not try a spiced berry cocktail?

Classic cocktails:
Quick but delicate cosmopolitan
Fresh-tasting bloody Mary
Long Island iced tea
Negroni (perfect for the Campari fan in your life)
Lemon drop
Martini


Creamy and Christmassy:
Berlin blonde
Rum Alexander baby
White Russian
'Pudding' cocktail (no pudding required for this one)

Virtuous but delicious mocktails
Apple, pineapple and melon juice (substitute coconut water if you don't have one of these)
Pineapple, grape and celery juice
The rehydrator


Hot drinks
There's nothing better on a cold night than a warming hot drink, perhaps enhanced with a slug of rum or whisky. And if the weather's dry, you might feel inclined to light the barbecue and serve hot drinks around that. Marshmallows, fruit kebabs (pineapple alone works really well) and chestnuts (prick them first) can all be cooked outside, and somehow the contrast between cold air and warm drinks can be especially festive - especially if you have some fairy lights too.

Hot chocolate can be livened up with a pinch of cinnamon or even a tiny pinch of chilli flakes stirred in. Hot cider or apple juice (perhaps with a clove-studded lemon slice, or a dash of winter Pimms) can warm up a cold guest and make them feel welcome.

More hot drinks ideas:
Spiced mulled wine
Warm cider toddy
Hot spiced berry punch

Party food
If you don't serve any food, you run the risk of getting your guests far too jolly far too quickly - which is all very ho ho ho for a while but can turn into a problem soon after. It doesn't have to mean a lot of cooking though, and something as simple as pigs in blankets (sausages with bacon wrapped round them) makes a great and filling snack.

More party food ideas:
Gorgeous goat's cheese canapes
Spiced roasted nuts
How to make spicy sausage rolls (with GBBO's Richard Burr)
Mini spinach and chorizo frittatas
Mini roast beef Yorkshire puddings
Prawn and mango kebabs

More festive food ideas:
Christmas menus: Festive food for everyone
Good Housekeeping's tried and tested Guide to Christmas 2016 food shopping
How to have a Scandinavian-style Christmas
Christmas baking and dessert recipes

Make Christmas easier on yourself:
The ultimate Christmas countdown
How to decode a whisky label
Quick and easy last-minute Christmas
Take the stress out of Christmas