The experience of aperitivo is an Italian cultural ritual. Derived from the Latin aperire, the tradition is meant “to open” the stomach before dining. For centuries, Italians have said cheers – cin cin – over drinks and appetizers in the early evening hours between work and dinner.

The table, the menu, the music, and of course, the guests: here’s how to organize a home aperitivo. Whether it’s to celebrate an occasion, a graduation, Christmas with friends, watch a soccer game together, or simply spend an evening without the need to go out, hosting a home aperitivo is always a great idea, and with a few tricks, it will be a success.

The Steps for a Perfect Aperitivo

Choose Your Guests

It might seem obvious, but it’s not. Unless you’re organizing a reunion with old friends, it’s always a good idea to create diverse groups of compatible people to make the conversation more stimulating than just neighborhood gossip, meet new people, and maybe even spark some successful flirtation.

So, a good rule for a home aperitivo could be: for every person you’ve known for a lifetime, invite someone you’ve met more recently or outside your usual circle. If you don’t know anyone outside your circle, invite fewer people but ask them to bring a +1.

Organize the Space

There’s no need to completely rearrange your furniture, but think ahead about where to seat, drink, and dine your guests. For the occasion, any room in the house is fine (the living room, the dining room, or even the kitchen), but it’s essential to have ample counter space for serving dishes, small plates for guests and used dishes, glasses, and drinks.

This is an informal gathering, so there’s no need to sit around a table. In fact, it’s nice to allow your guests to move freely. However, calculate how many people can comfortably fit in the space, so it doesn’t feel too crowded, as in, don’t invite 30 people if your house can only hold 10.

Set Up the Buffet

Once you’ve chosen the space, set the table with a tablecloth that represents you or the mood you want for the evening. Choose a playlist or a radio station for background music, and let the food do the rest.

You can use whatever makes you feel comfortable, from designer bowls to ceramic plates bought in Sicily last summer, or even paper plates and cups. Depending on the occasion or the season, you can personalize the table with accessories, vases, flowers, or decorated napkins.

Plan the Menu

The aperitivo isn’t normally a substitute for a meal, so if you’re hosting a home aperitivo and plan to serve dinner later, it’s good to think about some activities or drinks to keep your guests entertained.

You don’t need to go overboard with savory pies and lasagnas. Chips, nuts, olives, breadsticks, carefully selected cheeses and cold cuts, when paired with the right drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), can yield extraordinary results.

For example, truffle chips go perfectly with a good Lambrusco, slightly sparkling, fresh, and fragrant. BBQ chips are perfect to accompany cheeses while sipping on sangria. The choices are infinite!

For those who enjoy strong flavors, veggie creams and breadsticks are the perfect combo and go well with sparkling wines and champagne. Don’t hesitate to add sweet giant olives and cold cuts to bring your aperitivo to the next level.

Another great option is salt & pepper chips accompanied by a glass of intense red wine and a bowl of hummus served with raw vegetables sticks.

You don’t have to necessarily make it copious, why not simply enjoy a refreshing and quenching long drink, such as a good Gin and Tonic, along with a bowl of toasted almonds and salted pistachios.

The possibilities are endless, have fun and be creative!

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