Punch was a standard at big parties in my home growing up. My mom made one specific punch for all occasions, whether it was a school graduation or a Christmas party. It consisted of lemonade and orange juice concentrates, lemon juice (from a bottle I'm sure), 2 cups of Southern Comfort and ginger ale. She would freeze water in a Cool Whip container to form a big block of ice to put in the punch bowl. From time to time, I believe she would also add sherbet to the punch.
According to Liquor.com a proper punch should include a spirit, sugar, water, citrus and spice. I suppose technically, my mom's recipe is proper, if you count the water in the ginger ale and the ginger flavor as a spice. (But I'm sure no good guest would turn up her nose at a punch bowl that varies from tradition.)
The other thing that's unnecessary when serving punch is a traditional punch bowl. If you have one, great; if you don't, you can put your punch in a large glass pitcher or a beverage dispenser. Your punch will be festive no matter how you serve it.
With that in mind, here are seven punch recipes, five with booze and two without, that will let guests know you're ready to celebrate the holiday season.
Holiday Champagne Punch: A Champagne punch works for any holiday, but it would be particularly festive on New Year's Eve. Champagne, ginger beer, juices and the option to add rum (I say add the rum) create a red-hued punch worthy of such a celebration. To keep the cost down, try using a Brut Cava in the punch instead of the more expensive Champagne.
Peppermint Eggnog Punch: Peppermint ice cream, store-bought eggnog, and rum are combined to create a punch. Ginger ale is added to give it some fizz. (A reviewer commented that cream soda would work, too.) Serve with a candy cane garnish to make it fancy.
Holly Jolly Punch: A mix of vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, ginger ale, orange juice, sugar and spice (this one is a proper punch), and mix to make a seasonal cocktail. Float cranberries and oranges in the bowl or pitcher for a pretty visual.
Hot Mulled Pomegranate Punch: Served in a slow cooker, this punch incorporates inexpensive Beaujolais Nouveau, juices, several spices and honey to create a warm punch to serve on a chilly holiday night.
Sangria: Sangria is basically a punch made with wine, and this recipe is the one I used recently for my family tree-trimming party. A fresh, fruity red wine with fruit, juice and triple sec gets topped with some sparkling wine. You can serve this in wine glasses or traditional punch glasses.
Non-Alcoholic Cranberry Pineapple Punch: Very simple to put together, this combination of pineapple and cranberry juice plus ginger ale and some fruit is something all ages at the party can drink.
Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Punch: An alternative to Champagne punch, booze-free sparkling cider adds the bubbles to this punch, which also has club soda, orange and lemon.
A final note: Some of these recipes call for specific brands of spirits or wines. You can certainly substitute any brand of a similar spirit or wine for the ones recommended.