If you're new to hosting, live in a small space, or are simply looking for an easy weeknight entertaining idea, this dinner party is for you. Serve guests a spread of hearty appetizers that require minimal prep (a.k.a. popped in the oven or poured out of a bag) and can be enjoyed while sitting or standing. Today's grocery store shelves and freezer sections are filled with gourmet options to make entertaining an almost-effortless task. Stock up on small but filling nibbles like mini quiches, nuts, meats and cheeses, cut veggies, and pastries, then add a few touches to make them yours. Garnish drink glasses with fruit slices, drizzle hummus with olive oil and a dusting of paprika, and display everything on pretty dishes. Break out the linen napkins and copper serving knives to make it feel like an event, and you've got yourself a party. We walk through commonly asked hosting questions like how much food to buy and when to shop, plus give you ideas to recreate this concept at home.
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 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.
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.
Hungry for more crowd-pleasing ideas? Use our favorite appetizer and easy finger food recipes to create your next party menu, and use our free calculator to find out how much food to buy before heading to the grocery store.
Party Appetizers and Calculator
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