invitation

Books and websites every home entertainer needs in her arsenal

Recipes: The new Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust features Ina Garten's reliable edibles. Diane Rossen Worthington's Seriously Simple Parties provides menus with party prep notes. Browse punchfork.com, foodgawker.com, or recipesorangette.blogspot.com for more.

Drinks: Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book, updated annually by the world's best-selling wine writer (get it on your e-reader!), will ease your fears about which vino to buy. Use fiveoclockcocktails.com to channel your inner mixologist.

Decor: This is a no-brainer: Surf pinterest.com for inspiration — and lonnymag.com, too. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Harrison and Lara Shriftman's entertaining guides, available at partyconfidential.net, still remain the ultimate fab-fete-planning handbooks.

Manners: The recently updated 18th edition of Emily Post's Etiquette is a must for keeping your p's and q's in check.

desserts

Nothing drives a crowd wild like a spread of sweets. Order these homemade-looking treats — which can be delivered to your door — and get ready for an epic, but so worth it, sugar hangover.

1 ICE CREAM Jeni's Splendid ice cream sandwiches come in four flavors: oatmeal cream, chocolate hazelnut, orchid vanilla, and salty caramel. $56 for eight; jenis.com

2 CAKE Foodie fave Momofuku Milk Bar ships its famous bite-size birthday-cake and chocolate-chip-cake truffles, among other treats. $16 for 12; momofukustore.com

3 BARS Whimsy & Spice's espresso brownies are rich and chewy while the fudgy chocolate butterscotch bars have a graham cookie crust. From $8.50 for four; whimsyandspice.com

4 PIES Add a dollop of whipped cream to 3-inch personal Cutie Pies available in cherry, bourbon pecan, apple, pumpkin, and chocolate caramel. From $20 for four; shop.cutiepiesnyc.com

5 CHOCOLATES Liddabit Sweets' "slurtles" are an addictive combo of beer caramel, crunchy pretzels, and dark chocolate. $7 for two; liddabitsweets.com

6 COOKIES Switch up your holiday cookie tradition with Butter + Love gingerbread mustaches. $5 for three; butterpluslove.com

S'MORES Stick an exotic S'More Bakery marshmallow (apple cider, pumpkin spice, peppermint) between two cinnamon-sugar-and-clover honey grahams. Yum, marshmallows. $3 each; smorebakery.com

drinking

Every holiday event needs a signature drink. Try one of these simple-to-make crowd-pleasers.

THE HIBISCUS A festive elixir with tart flavor and bold color from chef Marcus Samuelsson

2 ounces SKYY Infusions

Coconut Vodka

2 ounces chilled hibiscus tea

½ ounce lime juice

Mix and serve on the rocks.

KILL DEVIL PUNCH A bubbly classic from Lesley M.M. Blume's new recipe book, Let's Bring Back: The Cocktail Edition

One 750-ml bottle cold

champagne

1½ cups light rum

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cups brewed green tea

Sugar or simple syrup

Ice

Mix first three ingredients; add in the green tea and sugar to taste. Pour into a punch bowl with ice. Serves 10.

Wine & Cheese Pairs Options from master sommelier Laura Maniec, co-owner of New York City's Corkbuzz wine bar

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