Welcome to How to Host, a new monthly feature where we will address various aspects of hosting stylish, memorable and, hopefully, low-stress gatherings. To kick things off we’re tackling the pre-party, the pre-event gathering that kicks things off before a bigger event such as a Saints game, charity gala or an evening at a concert or the theatre. If the last pre-party you attended involved chaperones, your parents, the prom or jungle juice, it’s time to up your approach a bit.

Hefty Handmade Glassware

For Ben Dombey, the goal to create the perfect rocks glass began after a trip to Scotland in 2011. Every piece of glassware, barware, bar glass or cocktail glass he makes is inflated by lung power and is 100 percent handmade in his Bywater studio. As with anything handmade, pieces will vary slightly, adding to their charm. The bottom of each piece is deeply embossed with an image, which can be customized to suit a krewe, a company, a family or an occasion. Glassblower Ben, by appointment, 1239 St. Ferdinand St., 504-603-7080, GlassBlowerBen.com


Festive Cocktails 

Wine is fine but colorful libations kick things off with extra zip. El Guapo Bitters, a New Orleans-based, Louisiana flavor-centric line of craft cocktail bitters and syrups, has gone national. You can find the made-in-New Orleans products at Whole Foods, Costco and Neiman Marcus. Locally, El Guapo’s sexy and sensational products are available in many places around town. El Guapo CEO Christa Cotton created custom cocktails -– the Strawberry Champagne Spritz and the Louisiana Fall Fashioned – for us. If you’re really feeling fancy, she can create specialty libations just for you. El Guapo Bitters, 504-444-2914, ElGuapoBitters.com

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Gorgeous, Stress-Free, Utterly Delicious Bites

This is the time to dial it in. The call to make is to Food & Board NOLA. A skilled cook and entertainer with a flair for food styling, Maureen Wolfe creates custom boards and platters heaped with local produce, honey, charcuterie, cheeses, nuts and edible flowers that are perfect for stress-free home entertaining. The lavish spreads are delivered on sustainable, reusable/recyclable platters. When you and your krewe are headed out the door for the main event, just call in the kids to polish off the leftovers or pop it all in the refrigerator to nibble your way through a post-event snack attack. Food & Board NOLA, 504-234-5870, marliestable@gmail.com, Facebook.com/foodandboardnola