All-Appetizer Parties

Appetizer parties are a great way to entertain a group, especially if you are short on seating space, time, or resources.
What to Serve

Here are some tips to keep in mind when deciding which appetizers to serve:

Curry Chicken Potstickers
Ethnic dishes, like this Curry
Chicken Potsticker, add
excitement to your party.

  • Select interesting foods to serve. Be creative and don't stick to just one cuisine. Flavorful dishes from around the world add excitement to any party. Fashion your foods to provide contrasting colors, temperatures, and textures. Balance rich, dense, and highly flavored foods with simple, fresh items, and try to include at least one or two low-calorie and vegetarian choices.
  • Offer enough assortment. For small gatherings of 8 to 10 guests, three or four types of appetizers are suitable; for parties of up to 45 guests, plan on six kinds; and for more than 45 guests, offer eight types. For variety, you'll want to plan appetizers from each of the following categories: meat or poultry, fish or seafood, cheese, and vegetables or fruit. If your party will extend several hours, consider serving some hearty appetizers, such as meatballs, kabobs, or some made with pastry or bread.
  • A variety of hot and cold foods can help keep everyone nibbling, as cold appetizers can be circulated while other treats are heating in the oven.
  • Think visual appeal. No matter how attractive the foods are individually, consider their collective impact. Combine foods with interesting color contrasts (monochromatic colors give guests the visual blahs). Also, consider how foods will look as they begin to be demolished by hungry guests. You don't want foods that become brown, soggy, or wilted after a brief stint on the table.
  • Serve party-friendly foods. Consider your guests and your carpeting. Party goers will likely be standing and milling about the house, so stick to finger foods that aren't messy or greasy, are easy to pick up quickly, and are substantial enough to be eaten with two fingers. Too many offerings that must be spooned out, sliced, or spread tend to cause people to bunch up around a buffet table.
  • Offer drink choices. You can stock a full alcoholic bar, limit the alcoholic selections to wine and beer, or stick to champagne or one specialty mixed drink such as margaritas, a punch bowl of eggnog, or hot rum toddies. Be sure to provide a variety of nonalcoholic options for nondrinkers and designated drivers, including juices, sparkling waters, and soft drinks. Keep in mind that many guests will drink both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks.

Continued on page 2:  Making It Easy