Traditional bridal showers involve giving gifts to help the couple set up their new home, but there’s a new type of wedding shower trend on the rise. Stock-the-bar showers are an alternative (or additional!) shower that celebrates a couple’s engagement with gifts of bubbly, booze, and bar tools to keep their liquor cabinet stocked with everything they need to entertain and celebrate in style.
What Is a Stock-the-Bar Shower?
A stock-the-bar shower is a co-ed wedding shower where the couple is given bottles of booze or barware to fill their bar cart and toast to their engagement.
While bridal showers have been around for centuries, stock-the-bar parties are a modern twist on this classic tradition. To help answer all your burning questions about how to host the perfect stock-the-bar shower, we consulted with Aspen-based wedding planner Juls Sharpley. “A stock the bar party is one of my favorite kinds of parties,” says Juls. “The best part about a stock-the-bar party is that you may end up receiving more eclectic bar items like really specialty bitters, aperitifs, and new tools.”
Meet the Expert
Juls Sharpley is the founder of Bubbles and Bowties, a wedding planning and event firm based in Aspen, Colorado, and serving the surrounding Rocky Mountain communities.
A stock-the-bar shower is a unique celebration, but it does require some planning to ensure the couple ends up with gifts of booze and barware that they’ll actually use. We fill you in on everything you need to know before you plan a stock-the-bar shower, along with a step-by-step guide to pulling off this saucy shindig.
Stock-the-Bar Shower Etiquette
Who throws the stock-the-bar shower?
There’s no hard-and-fast rule for who throws this kind of party. Some couples even decide to organize it themselves as an alternative to a housewarming party if they’ve just purchased a new home. Whoever throws this shower should be somewhat organized in order to balance the guest list, invites, and registry. “Ideally, they would create a list (hidden from you) of cocktail ingredients that are being brought,” says Juls. “No one needs multiple bottles of Angostura Bitters, but everyone needs multiple bottles of Luxardo cherries!”
When do you throw a stock-the-bar shower?
Anytime! A stock-the-bar shower can double as an engagement party to toast to the couple’s upcoming marriage, or it can be held as a last hurrah 1-2 months before the ceremony. It’s totally up to you!
Who gets invited?
“Any friends, especially those you enjoy having over on regular occasions,” says Juls. “Bonus points if they make a great cocktail and can teach you and others at the party how to make it as well!"
Who should consider having a stock-the-bar shower?
It goes without saying, but stock-the-bar showers should be held for couples that like to drink, especially those that like to experiment with craft cocktails or enjoy various spirits. It’s not for everyone, so don’t feel pressured to have one if you don’t think you’ll use the items you’re gifted.
Where should it take place?
“Ideally it takes place at the home of the person/couple being gifted/celebrated,” says Juls. “There’s nothing worse than having to haul a bunch of heavy bottles home after a party!”
How should you word the invitation?
Make sure to mention that the party is co-ed, and consider alerting your guests to any type of liquor you could do without.
Does the couple need a registry?
It might be a good idea to have a registry to ensure you don’t end up with multiple bottles of the same spirit. Look into registering at local wineries or distilleries near your area. Thirsty Nest is another great option; it's the first registry of its kind that provides a registry of wine and spirits, along with glassware that can accompany alcoholic beverages.
How long should it be?
If you’re serving food, allocate 2-3 hours for a stock-the-bar shower. “We always recommend serving something to nibble on when alcohol is involved,” recommends Juls. “These parties are also great come-and-go housewarming style parties!”
What kind of menu should be served?
Plan an array of cocktails, beers, and wine for your guests to sip on throughout the party. Consider serving your own signature cocktail, or asking your favorite winery to create custom wine labels on your favorite bottle for the party. Make sure to have some non-alcoholic beverages on hand for the designated drivers.
To ensure your guests enjoy responsibility, make sure there’s plenty of water available and easily accessible. Cocktail party snacks like cheese and charcuterie boards, dips and chips, and other finger foods will ensure your guests don’t overindulge on an empty stomach.
What games or activities can you play?
You don’t have to play games at a stock-the-bar party, but if you want to, a blind taste test is a great option. Have your guests taste test different spirits or cocktails to see who knows their liquor the best. The winner takes home one of the bottles! You could also have a short class or demonstration with a sommelier or bartender to teach the art of wine tasting or craft cocktails. The possibilities are endless!
Should the host give out party favors?
Party favors are a thoughtful gesture to thank your guests for celebrating with you and showering the couple with love and gifts. A few party favor ideas include small bottles of wine or spirits, personalized wine stoppers, or custom glassware.
Steps to Planning a Stock-the-Bar Shower
Decide who’s hosting.
Talk to your partner and decide if this is a party you want to host yourselves as a housewarming party, or if you want to leave it in the hands of your trusty MOH. Either way, make sure the party planner has plenty of time to plan – a stock-the-bar shower involves a little more coordination than your run-of-the-mill house party.
Decide on your guest list and send out invitations. Don’t feel the need to keep your guest list small. A stock-the-bar is a great opportunity to celebrate with friends who have been a part of your social circle for many years, as well as new friends who are always down for a good party. Unless the stock-the-bar shower is formal, e-mail or digital invites should suffice. Spend your party budget on the small bites and specialty drinks.
Register for gifts.
If you want to register for wine, spirits, and barware, make sure to do so at least a month before the party. Let your guests know where you’re registered, as well as any items you don’t think you’d use or enjoy.
Prepare the venue.
If you’re having the stock-the-bar shower at your home, make sure it’s ready for guests. If you’ve just moved in with your partner, make sure you’ll be settled in your new house before throwing a party. Set up different areas of the house or venue to make it easy for people to sit, sip, and chit-chat all night long. Don’t forget about the backyard!
Plan the food and drink menu.
Drinks are obviously the most important aspect of the stock-the-bar party, with food following close behind. Make sure you have plenty of both to last your guests at least 2-3 hours and an equal amount of drinks. The finger foods should be somewhat substantial, but don’t forget about the classics like a cheese board and chips with dip.
Consider hiring a bartender to pour up one-of-a-kind cocktails for your guests, or having a sommelier give a tasting. At the very least, make sure you have a few bottles of champagne to toast to the happy couple towards the end of the night.
You can help your guests celebrate responsibly by having a firm cutoff time for drinks, or even purchasing credits from a ride-sharing app to help them get home safely. Ask one of your bridesmaids or groomsmen to be on high alert for anyone enjoying the party a little too much. A stock-the-bar party can be loads of fun, but it’s not a college frat party. Your guests should prepare a safe ride home if they plan on drinking.