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Taking the Party Home

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entertaining_made_easy.jpgThe economy may be down, but it hasn’t killed people’s festive spirit. They’re entertaining at home more, and they’re looking for the snacks, drinks and accompaniments needed to keep the party going.

One category that’s benefiting from the trend is natural and organic drink mixers. Having people over means breaking out the booze, and for more and more people, it’s top-shelf stuff. Recent data from Nielsen shows that alcohol consumption is up 4.2% from a year ago, and high-end spirits saw an 11% increase. Mixers like those made by modmix, Q Tonic and others are rolling out. Many include exotic ingredients, like organic agave and hand-picked quinine.

Some gourmet and whole health splurges like this are weathering the economy. But for most retailers, which serve increasingly cost-conscious shoppers, selling non-essentials like gadgets and home decorations can be tricky.

In most cases, the winners will be those “green” products that offer quality and efficiency that translate into savings over time. If it’s a scented candle, it needs to last longer and smell better than the conventional alternative. If it’s a kitchen appliance, it should save on water and electricity.

“If it’s something green, it also has to save money,” said Mark Delaney, director of the NPD Group’s home segment, based in Port Washington, NY, in a recent interview.

Getting people to think about long-term savings isn’t as hard as it used to be. Heck, just look at the success of the compact fluorescent light bulb — which lasts for up to eight years and can save up to $30 in electric bills over its lifetime — and you’ll see what I mean.

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