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Photo of young people dressed warm and using a tablet in an area decorated for the holidays

Eat, Drink and Be Merry With a Tech Twist

2 Nov 2015 by Susie Steckner

With the holiday season fast approaching, party planning is in full swing. Whether you’re in charge of the office party, organizing a family gathering or hosting a Saturday night get-together, you’ll need help. Luckily, easy-to-use apps and websites are just a device away.

Need to keep track of RSVPs? Looking for a new cocktail to serve? What about booking a band? Check, check and check.

Party planning

First up: what does everyone want to do? Survey colleagues, family members or friends with simple polling apps like Straw, Loop or Tossup. Solicit ideas, venues, food choices and more via social media, e-mail or text.

Streamline your search for a venue with eVenues, which allows you to search by location and capacity, scroll through photos of a site, get hourly and daily rates, and book online. While you’re at it, use Gigtown to scout local bands, sample music, find out where to see a particular band play live, and then book the entertainment for your event or party.

As you start making plans, keeping track of all the details — from RSVPs to rentals, guest lists to gifts — can be a real downer. Try a planning app like the Pro Party Planner, which allows you to create timelines, manage invitations, delegate tasks and play with seating charts. With Simple Soiree, handle all those tasks and also create your own invitations to send directly to guests.

Eats and drinks

No matter what you’re organizing at home or the office, the food takes center stage. 

For a spur-of-the moment gathering, try apps like Seamless or Eat24 to order food from scores of restaurants in your area that offer delivery and take out. If you’re cooking at home, check out the Pepperplate app to plan meals and menus, wrangle your shopping lists, and keep track of cooking times with multiple timers.

If you want to take it up a notch, think about a personal chef. Search Kitchit to find the seasonal menu that fits your gathering, such as the seasonal Pumpkin Patch featuring organic fruits and root vegetables, and then reserve a chef to prepare it.

Want to get through the check list quicker? Try on-demand apps that bring the party — at least the food and drinks — to you. 

Instacart promises grocery delivery in an hour. During the holidays, users get suggestions for recipes like Citrus Olive Oil Cake and can instantly shop for ingredients to pull it off for the party. AmazonFresh offers same-day and early morning delivery. You’ll have groceries delivered to your doorstep and just about anything else you need for your event — from coffee to pre-made desserts.

At-home delivery of beer, wine and spirits is available through startups like Drizly and Minibar. Planning a get-together on the fly? Some services will deliver within the hour.

Setting up the drink station is easier with a host of bartending apps.

They fit the bill whether you need the perfect recipe for a tried-and-true party cocktail, want to shake it up with something new or are looking for a fun non-alcoholic beverage to serve. Bonus: Beyond recipes, you’ll find tips on stocking the bar, details on the ideal glassware to use and video demos so you can get that hot buttered rum just right. Check out Speakeasy Cocktails; 8,500+ Drink Recipes Free and Mixology.

Fun and games

If you’ve got a photographer on your must-have list, check out photo booth alternative PhotoTap. A photographer roams your party or event and snaps shots of guests with chipped wrist bands or event badges. The photographer taps the band or badge and photos are instantly e-mailed to the guest or shared on social media.

You can also help party guests take selfies to a new level by renting a SelfieMIR, a touchscreen two-way mirror with a social media photo imager. Guests can take a selfie hands free, claim it at an iPad station and then share it on their networks.

If you’re going to skip a live band, pass on your overplayed music library, too, and check out Party Monster. The simple queueing DJ app lets you move songs to the que, crossfade from song to song and more.

Your game-loving crowd will want to try out a few fun apps. QuizUp, MoviePop and Trivia Crack challenges guests’ knowledge on a range of topics; Speed Trivia tests their calm under pressure. Dance Party and Bounden will get you and your friends moving. Heads Up! offers old-school charades with a tech twist.

No matter what you’ve got planned — couple’s night or client mixer — grab your device and start checking off your to-do list.