Unless you've been living under a shag carpet for the past couple of years, then you're likely aware that the current calling card for any host is a well-appointed bar cart. And it's not simply about the kind of alcohol you have on hand, either. These days, your drink display has to be a centerpiece — it's now commonplace to be judged on the mid-century vibes your cart is putting out and whether or not you have trendy accessories to round out the party. Instead of letting the pressure get to you, take a deep breath and a look at this list of essentials. From the bar cart to the booze, you can get everything you need for less than $500.
Threshold Bar Cart
This gold bar cart from Target is outfitted with metal, leather, and wood ($123.49), which is basically everything that's in style at the moment. Even better? It's totally budget friendly.
Carmen Pineapple Ice Bucket
The standard ice bucket has nothing on this pineapple version from CB2 ($69.95). Even when it's not in use, this must-have will still look cool.
Mixology 7-Piece Barware Set
Look like you really know what you're doing — even if you're not exactly sure — when you stock your bar cart with this West Elm mixology barware set ($49). The collection includes a strainer, tongs, a shot glass, and a muddler, so you can theoretically make any drink you'd like.
Wooden Cutting Board
There's no need to run to the kitchen to finish up a drink's ingredients when you have a cutting board on hand. This small one from H&M ($12.99) won't take up too much space, either.
Stelton Flow Carafe
Store a cocktail mixture in this Need Supply Co. carafe ($60) to chill in the fridge, and then place it on your bar cart once guests arrive.
Bamboo Knotted Skewer
Top off your cocktails with fruit or other garnishes using these bamboo skewers from Bio & Chic ($7.40).
"Whiskey Because Why Not?" Coaster Set
Whether you're serving hard liquor or a couple of brews, you'll need a few coasters to keep from making a party foul permanent. This coaster set ($14) will keep your furniture safe, and make your guests smile every time they use it.
Stainless Steel Cocktail Stirrer
Whipping up a pitcher of a certain adult beverage? Make sure you're combining every last ounce with this CB2 stainless steel stirrer ($3.95).
Rocks Bar Glass
When you're ready to pour your guest a cold one, serve it in this slick bar glass from Gilt ($6). Now you're set to buy the booze, and with the money you saved with these essentials, you can grab an assortment that keeps you within a $500 budget. Cheers!