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Entertaining, whether it’s a casual get-together with friends or an elegant dinner, is easier if you have essentials on-hand. And that’s where an entertainment cart comes in.

A well-appointed entertainment cart is a stylish way to keep beverages, light snacks, glassware and more at the ready, while also serving as an eye-catching addition to a space.

Entertainment carts are available in all sorts of materials and styles, from rattan for outdoor patios or sunrooms to retro mid-century modern looks, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one that complements your décor.

Stocking Your Entertainment Cart

Once you have your cart, make a list of what’s essential for how you entertain. The goal is a thoughtfully curated cart, as opposed to something that’s cluttered and looks thrown together. As you begin adding to your cart, keep in mind color, texture and pattern, as you’ll want your cart as a whole to fit into your room’s aesthetic. (Also keep in mind placing heavier or bulkier items on the bottom of the cart.)

Ready to get the party started? Check out the following entertainment cart basics.

  1. 1. Glassware. While glassware is often clear, why not mix things up with statement glassware in bright hues that complement the colors in your room? (If your entertainment cart is stationed outdoors on your patio, you may want to consider acrylic glasses.)
  2. 2. Beverage accessories. Add a wine bucket and save time by chilling a bottle without having to put it back into the refrigerator. An ice bucket, tongs and pretty water pitcher also come in handy. And don’t forget colorful paper straws—a nice touch when serving drinks in tall glasses.
  3. 3. A place to set drinks. Coasters or cocktail napkins are a must for protecting surfaces from water rings; cocktail napkins are also handy for catching snack crumbs so they don’t end up ground into your floor or furnishings.
  4. 4. Mixers. Club soda, tonic water and bottles of designer juice or soda work with a variety of beverages, including mocktails.

  5. Fruit. A small bowl of limes or lemons serves double duty as drink garnishes as well as simply adding a pop of color to the cart.
  6. 5. Sweets. While you obviously can’t leave perishables sitting out between events, a dish of wrapped chocolates will stay fresh for months. Add a small cake stand to adorn with petite desserts, such as macaroons, truffles or mini-cupcakes, before party time.
  7. 6. Extra touches. Round things out with a candle or two, a vase of flowers (or a bud vase with just a few stems), and a couple coffee-table books (travel books are great conversation starters). If your cart is in a sunny spot, you might also consider a little pot of herbs, such as rosemary, mint or basil. You can use sprigs for drink or appetizer garnishes—plus, they smell good!