Get out your Christmas sweaters and festive dinnerware: Holiday party season is coming up fast. And hosts know how stressful this time of year is. From menu planning to DIY decorations, there's enough to do. Save yourself from bartending all night and provide a large bowl of punch. (It makes for a beautiful centerpiece.) We're punch drunk in love with these easy festive non-alcoholic recipes. If you have a boozy crowd, we recommend ways to spike the bowl. Feel free to adjust the alcohol amount to keep your guests in high spirits all night.
Brittany Volk, Times staff writer
Pomegranate and Orange Punch
Make the ice cubes: Place 1 to 2 mint leaves in each space of an ice cube tray. Divide pomegranate seeds (about ¼ to ? cup) among the ice cube spaces. Fill with water and freeze for 4 hours or longer, until solid.
Make the punch: Mix 4 cups pomegranate juice and 3 cups orange juice in a large punch bowl over the ice cubes. Add 1 liter orange soda and stir.
Spike it: Add ½ cup orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier, and substitute orange soda with 2 bottles (750 ml) Champagne, Prosecco or other sparkling white wine.
Garnish it: Add an orange slice to each glass. Toss in a few pomegranate seeds and more mint leaves.
Serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10. Recipe from foodiecrush.com.
Make it: Pour 2 liters Hawaiian Punch, 2 liters lemon-lime soda and 1 (46-ounce) can pineapple juice in a punch bowl. Add 1 carton raspberry sherbet. Serve with ice cubes.
Spike it: Add 1 cup white rum.
Garnish it: Rim the glasses with green sprinkles.
Serves 10 to 12. Recipe adapted from thecasualcraftlete.com.
Apple Pie Punch
Make it: Combine 1 quart apple cider, 2 cups pear nectar and 2 cups ginger ale in a punch bowl. Stir well. Thinly slice 2 apples and drop them inside bowl with ice.
Spike it: Add 1 to 1 ½ cups vodka.
Garnish it: Add a cinnamon stick and apple slices to each glass.
Can be served warm or cold. Serves 8. Recipe adapted from thecookierookie.com.
Make it: Combine 3 cups chilled cranberry juice and ¾ cup chilled orange juice in a punch bowl and stir to combine. Add 2 (750-milliliter) bottles dry sparkling white grape juice or ginger ale.
Spike it: Substitute dry sparkling white grape juice or ginger ale with Champagne. Substitute orange juice with Cointreau. To make it even harder, add ¼ cup vodka or gin.
Garnish: Instead of ice, use frozen orange slices and frozen cranberries to keep the bowl chilled.
Serve immediately. Serves 12. Recipe adapted from chowhound.com.
Holiday Wassail Punch
Make it: Combine 12 cups apple cider, 2 cups orange juice, 8 cinnamon sticks, 12 whole star anise, 2 tablespoons sugar, large pinch of allspice and juice of 2 lemons in a large Dutch oven or slow cooker. Simmer for a few hours before serving.
Spike it: Add 2 cups bourbon or whiskey.
Garnish: Add an orange or apple slice, a whole cinnamon stick and star anise to each glass.
Serve hot. Serves 12 to 14. Recipe adapted from thekitchn.com.
Slow Cooker Peppermint Bark Hot Chocolate
Make it: Combine 8 cups whole milk, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 3 cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon peppermint extract and ¼ teaspoon salt in a 7-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 2 hours or until combined, whisking vigorously halfway through to help chocolate melt.
Spike it: Add ½ cup creme de menthe or vodka.
Garnish it: Top each glass with whipped cream and crushed candy canes.
Switch slow cooker to warm for serving. Serves 12. Recipe adapted from Good Housekeeping.
Make it: In a punch bowl, combine 1 liter chilled ginger ale or lemon-lime soda, 1 liter chilled club soda, ¾ cup sparkling apple cider, ¼ cup sugar, 1 cup halved cranberries and 1 chopped Granny Smith apple. Stir together until sugar is dissolved.
Spike it: Substitute ginger ale and club soda with 2 bottles of pinot grigio.
Garnish: Add 3 or 4 rosemary sprigs to the bowl.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Serve chilled or over ice. Serves 10 to 12. Recipe adapted from cakenknife.com.
Cranberry and Mint Holiday Punch
Make it: Pour 4 cups boiling water over 5 mint tea bags in a large glass measuring cup or bowl. Allow it to steep while you make the cranberry simple syrup: Pour 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries, 2 cups sugar and 1 ½ cups water into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat to boiling and allow cranberries to start popping for a minute or two. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes. Turn off heat and allow mixture to come to room temperature. Strain the cranberry syrup into another large bowl. Use the back of a spoon to mash the cranberries in the strainer to get all the juice. Pour your steeped tea over the pulp, through the strainer, and into the large bowl with the cranberry simple syrup. To serve, juice 2 limes into a punch bowl. Sprinkle a handful of fresh mint leaves in the bowl. Add ice and pour cranberry and tea mixture into the punch bowl. Add 1 liter club soda and serve.
Spike it: Add ½ to 1 cup vodka or gin.
Garnish it: Plop extra fresh cranberries and a mint leaf in each glass.
Serve immediately. Serves 12. Recipe adapted from ishouldbemoppingthefloor.com.
Creamy White Christmas Punch
Make it: Combine ½ cup sugar and ¼ cup hot water in a small glass bowl. Heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until sugar is dissolved. Cool and stir in 3 ounces evaporated milk and 1 teaspoon almond extract. Pour into a large punch bowl and add ½ gallon vanilla ice cream. Use a potato masher to break ice cream into small chunks. Slowly stir in a 1-liter bottle of lemon-lime soda.
Spike it: Add 1 cup white rum.
Garnish it: Top each drink with whipped cream and sprinkles.
Serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10. Recipe adapted from creationsbykara.com.
Make it: In a bowl, with whisk, beat 3 large eggs and 3 large egg whites until blended; set aside. In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, with heat-safe spatula, mix 4 cups low-fat milk with ½ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook on medium-high until mixture boils and thickens slightly, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute. Remove saucepan from heat. Gradually whisk ½ cup simmering milk mixture into eggs; pour egg mixture back into milk in saucepan, whisking constantly, to make custard. Pour custard into large bowl; stir in 2 tablespoons vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1 ½ cups low-fat milk.
Spike it: Add ? cup dark Jamaican rum.
Garnish it: Sprinkle glasses with nutmeg.
Cover and refrigerate punch until well chilled, at least 6 hours or up to 2 days. Makes about 6 ½ cups; serves 13. Recipe from delish.com.