Cocktail picks are one of those missed opportunities when planning a party. So often hosts reach for a plain toothpick, which is a good choice. I admit that is better than forgetting to leave out any form of pick for guests.
Olives, cheese slices, cheese cubes, tomatoes, grapes, charcuterie platters, etc. all require more than a serving spoon to manipulate the morsel to a plate or napkin (never directly to the mouth). And Heaven forbid guests are left to use their personal forks for such conveyance.
These days plastic themed cocktail picks, which look very similar to a toothpick, are readily available at many party stores. For a Fall informal gathering a few years ago I used picks such as these which had a small leaf on top of each pick. The plastic leaf and pick were done in Autumnal colors, which matched the paper napkins, plates and cups. They worked perfectly.
And who doesn’t love to see a few brightly colored paper umbrellas hanging out around a cocktail or juice glass? A cool, retro option, for sure!
However, what if you are having a more formal preconcert or opera gathering? Wooden toothpicks and even themed plastic picks will look out of place. Another option for you is reusable stainless steel picks, which come in a large variety at party stores, wine shops and on Amazon.com. They are relatively inexpensive, sturdy and quickly washed and ready for the next gathering. They also look much more sophisticated than a traditional pick. These are a better option.
Mike found some cute bird martini picks at Tommy Bahama that he likes to use. I found a streamlined set, which has a simple round ball on the top, at Amazon. Mine were much cheaper, but maybe not as much fun!
The best option is sterling silver picks. Tiffany has some really retro cool ones that look like swords. I remember when I was little going to Luby’s or Furr’s and seeing colored plastic swords in olives or lemon wedges on the buffet line. The sterling version is much nicer, but they still have a bit of whimsy.
I also have a lovely set of Tiffany twig picks which are a little longer than the swords. They are perfect for before dinner appetizers when it is just Mike and me.
If you like to entertain, go ahead and invest in a nice set of cocktail picks. It will really elevate your gatherings.
I would recommend:
Use wooden toothpicks for a paper plate sort of gathering.
Use plastic and/or theme picks for a theme party or plastic ware sort of gathering.
Use stainless steel picks for large gatherings where you are using glass or china guest plates.
Use sterling silver for more intimate, dressier glass or china plate and cloth napkin occasions.
You can help prevent your guests from throwing away reusable picks by using them at the same events you use dishes and napkins that are not disposable. If you are still concerned the picks will be discarded, place a small plate where guests will be leaving their dirty dishes with a sign “Please place used cocktail picks here.” Make sure guests do not have access to the trash can (unless you want to find yourself searching the can for missing picks!). Savvy guests will know the difference. Unsavvy guests probably won’t be invited to your more formal events.