A space dedicated to serving wine, cocktails, and drinks is a welcome addition in most homes, especially during the holiday hosting season. Luckily, there are lots of bar cart ideas to consider for your own space. There’s sure to be something that fits in with your own home design aesthetic, whether it’s an antique wood bar cart or a midcentury stunner. And the best part: You don’t even need a proper bar cart (though adding one to your furniture wish list is always an option). An acrylic tray positioned atop a bookshelf or bar cabinet, or the top of a side or console table can all fill in as a makeshift but functional and stylish bar cart. 

A glassware-and-libations pitstop for a festive soiree only needs a few supplies—many of which you probably already have on hand. Putting a bar cart together doesn’t take up hours either. This is an easy DIY afternoon project of curating and styling. “Entertaining is all about the experience,” says designer and HomeGoods style expert Beth Diana Smith, who follows a three-step formula when prepping a bar cart: “Set the stage, deliver on drink-ware, and accessorize.”

How do you decorate a bar cart at home? 

Good designers know that sometimes less is more, and that adage also applies when it comes to home bar ideas and bar cart ideas. “You don’t need to fill every inch of a bar cart,” says Roxy Owens, founder and designer of Society Social. “You don’t need to adopt a minimalist aesthetic, but if too many items are crammed into the space, it can be intimidating for guests to use and it will make your space look cluttered.” Malka Helft, principal of Think Chic Interiors in New York, likes clustering bottles based on the color of alcohol and bottle itself more than the type of alcohol. 

You should also take the bar cart design, or surface you’re using, into consideration. Are you styling a rattan bar cart for an outdoor bar? If so, shatterproof barware and colorful straws and stirrers may be in order. But if you’re creating a vignette on a stately piece of furniture, bar cart styling that includes glass decanters, a statement wine rack, or a collection of stunning coupe glasses could better round out the design.

How should I stock a bar cart?

Focus on the essentials. “Don’t feel pressured to stock every last fancy-schmancy liqueur or bitter,” Owens says. “All you need are a few quality spirits to make the classics, a good set of bar tools (lime squeezer, muddler, strainer, and mixing tin are key), and some interesting glassware.” Plus, buying less means you can splurge on higher-quality top-shelf spirits. If you have a surplus of wine or liquor, choose the best-looking bottles to display in your home bar and stash the rest out of sight in the pantry.

When it’s time to entertain, designer and luxury home decor expert Kim Seybert says she always has the classic liquors on hand: gin, vodka, tequila, and bourbon. “If I know my guests favor a type of liquor, I make sure to stock it, along with fresh-squeezed juices, soda water, tonic, and freshly cut lemons,” she says. However, Seybert urges novice hosts to keep it simple. “Do not overextend yourself,” she continues. “Serve one red wine, one white wine, and two mixed drinks. Choose a great wine glass for red or white, or purchase a versatile double old-fashioned glass for mixed drinks or wine. Use a wine bucket so the bottle can chill without putting it back in the fridge.”

Also make sure to have options available for guests who don’t imbibe,. For parties, keep one or two non-alcoholic beverage options chilled. And don’t forget about extras that can really make those mocktails pop. “For non-alcoholic drinks, I always include a festive garnish like cranberries, mint sprigs, or a colorful themed straw,” Smith continues. “Just because it’s non-alcoholic doesn’t mean it has to look it.”

How can I spice up my bar cart? 

Now that you’ve got your basics covered, it’s time for a shot of style. “Color, pattern, and texture all come into play when styling your bar cart,” Owens says. “Colorful straws and custom coasters add signature style and function. Cloth cocktail napkins are a small touch that can go a long way.”