How to Make Punch That Will Be the Star of Your Next Party

Serve up a big batch of party drinks with our tips on how to achieve a perfectly balanced punch—and then make it fancy with mix-ins, garnishes, and ice rings.

Whether you've got a backyard barbecue, birthday, or holiday gathering coming up, making punch for your event is an easy way to ensure everyone's cups stay full. By knowing the right ratio of fruit juice, water, and carbonated beverage, as well as other tasty add-ins, you can mix and match to create a variety of punch recipes. To get you started, we've got a delicious base recipe that will work with all sorts of flavors. By using our easy formula, you'll know how to make fruit punch, rum punch, sherbet punch, and more. If you want to add an ice ring for a classic presentation, we'll show you how to make one of those, too.

party punch with orange and kiwi slices

BHG / Cara Cormack

How to Make Punch

This basic recipe will allow for 1 gallon of punch, which is enough for sixteen 8-ounce servings.

Step 1: Make the Punch Base and Chill

bowl of party punch base in large punch bowl

BHG / Cara Cormack

In a large pitcher or bowl combine 4 cups water and one 12-oz. can frozen juice concentrate from the options below. Add 1 cup sugar; stir until dissolved. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap; chill at least 4 hours. Here are some juice concentrate options you could choose from to mix with the water and sugar:

  • Cranberry juice
  • Lemonade
  • Limeade
  • Orange juice
  • Pineapple juice

Step 2: Choose a Juice

adding juice into punch base mixture for party punch

BHG / Cara Cormack

Just before serving, pour the chilled juice mixture into a large punch bowl. Stir in 2½ cups of a juice blend from the following options:

  • Cranberry-apple juice
  • Pineapple-orange-banana juice blend
  • Pink grapefruit juice
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Raspberry juice blend
  • Strawberry juice blend

Step 3: Choose a Carbonated Beverage

adding carbonated mix in to party punch

BHG / Cara Cormack

Slowly stir in one 2-liter bottle of a carbonated beverage from the following options:

  • Cream soda
  • Ginger ale
  • Lemon-lime carbonated beverage
  • Orange carbonated beverage
  • Strawberry carbonated beverage

Step 4: Choose Optional Stir-Ins

If desired, add an ice ring (more on that below) and 1 cup stir-ins from the following options. If you want to learn how to make alcoholic punch (like a rum punch recipe) or you just want to dress up your punch with some spare fruit slices or fresh herbs, this is the time to stir in your extras. Use one or more of these stir-in options:

  • Citrus fruit slices
  • Kiwifruit slices
  • Rum, vodka, gin, bourbon, or tequila
  • Sherbet or sorbet
  • Sliced fresh strawberries
  • Fresh raspberries

Make-Ahead Punch Tip: Prepare punch through Step 2, except do not add the carbonated beverage or, if using, ice ring and stir-ins. Cover and chill up to 24 hours. Add carbonated beverage, ice ring, and stir-ins just before serving.

Pouring liquid into ring mold.
Jason Donnelly

How to Make an Ice Ring

If you want to learn how to make punch for a party, consider adding an ice ring. Not only are they attractive, but they can also keep your beverage cold for an hour or more. You can use a 10-inch tube pan ($15, Bed Bath & Beyond) or a fluted cake pan for your mold. Silicone pans also work well. Make sure the ice ring will fit into your punch bowl. To make sure the ice ring does not dilute the punch as it melts, use extra punch instead of water.

  • Add a little drama: You can make an ice ring using just the punch, but they're even more attractive when they're made with fruit like orange, lemon and/or lime slices; cherries; sliced strawberries; raspberries; or blackberries. You can also use edible flowers or mint leaves. Arrange these into the pan.
  • Layer fruits in the pan: Fill the mold with about 1 inch punch or water; freeze until solid. This will hold the add-ins in place and keep them from floating. Once frozen, fill the mold with another inch of punch or water and the fruit of your choice; freeze until solid. Continue until the mold is as full as you want it to be. To release from the pan, let the ring sit at room temperature about 20 minutes or place the mold in hot water for about 1 minute.
Hibiscus Punch
Melanie Acevedo

Garnishes for Punch

Be sure you have a ladle at the ready for serving punch. Just like a cocktail, punch is even more fun and special for your guests when you have garnishes available on the buffet table. Here are some fun ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Orange, lemon, and/or lime slices
  • Fruit kabob made of pineapple slices, citrus fruit wedges, maraschino cherries, and/or strawberries
  • Melon balls and/or small watermelon slices threaded onto a skewer
  • Edible flowers
  • Pretty ice cubes made by putting a strawberry or cherry in the center and filling trays with white grape juice
  • Paper umbrellas

There's more to punch than chilled versions. During the holidays and in the colder months, there's no better greeting than serving the family a toasty warm drink. Go for a non-carbonated punch such as hot cider or hot buttered rum. And with hot drinks, there's an added bonus of wonderful aromas wafting throughout your house. The trick is to keep the beverage hot in a slow cooker.

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