For a fun change of pace, ditch the traditional sit-down dinner in favor of an appetizer dinner party. Serving tasty finger foods can be inexpensive, low-stress, and a great conversation starter. The trick is to find delicious appetizer recipes that mimic a traditional dinner menu. We've got plenty of easy appetizer ideas, plus tips to help you throw a fresh, fun party from start to finish.
To guarantee a diverse appetizer spread, serve a combination of easy appetizers that satisfy several of the following food categories:
Editor's Tip: If your guests have dietary restrictions, consider making an assortment of appetizer recipes that cater to their needs. Having vegetarian appetizers or gluten-free appetizers, for instance, might be a priority if you are inviting vegetarians or people with gluten sensitivities.
The number of party appetizers you serve depends on the number of guests you invite. As your guest list increases, so should the appetizer selections.
Here's a quick guide to how many appetizers you should serve at your party:
For more party planning help, check out our Free Appetizer Quantity Guide. If you're still worried about running out of food, keep easy appetizers that don't require preparation -- such as cured meats, cheeses, and chips or crackers -- in the refrigerator or pantry.
You've probably seen the word charcuterie before on restaurant menus, maybe at your local grocery store. Charcuterie can be a scary word, but it's really just a fancy French term for cooked meats like pâté, prosciutto, and sausage. Knowing how to say charcuterie is more than half the battle, but knowing how to put together a delicious charcuterie tray is a great way to start any party. Just knowing the word charcuterie will totally impress your friends. It's a couple of food vocab words, once you have them down you can just kind of throw them in to casual conversation and all of a sudden you're that cool foodie in the group. It all starts with a good pâté, which is just a word for cooked ground meat mixed with veggies or fat. It's great on a baguette. You can also add salami prosciutto maybe even some capicola. And don't forget the cornichons which is another fancy term for many pickled cucumbers. You've probably seen them before. And don't forget to add your favorite cheeses. You could also serve your charcuterie tray with crackers or a baguette or any of your favorite breads. A crunchy baguette pairs well with everything. Feel free to throw in pickled olives, maybe some mustard. You can really let your charcuterie tray reflect your party personality. I like mine to have lots of different meats and cheeses and maybe a couple of condiments to really spice things up. There's no wrong way to put together a charcuterie tray and you can really make it your own. So what are you waiting for?
You want to relax and enjoy the party, too. So set your appetizer menu, and then develop a schedule for shopping for and preparing the appetizers. Create a to-do list, and use our Party Planner Checklist to make hosting easy.
Two weeks to a month before the party:
A week before the party:
A day or two before the party:
The day of the party:
Editor's Tip: Many party foods taste better when served around room temperature -- not piping-hot or ice-cold. However, perishable appetizers should not stand at room temperature for longer than two hours. Switch out serving plates, or serve them in heated chafing dishes or bowls of ice to maintain appropriate temperatures.