When is the last time you went to a party or potluck that didn't serve a veggie tray? Hard to remember, isn't it? It's a standard party appetizer for good reason: Veggie trays are easy to make and can be pulled together on the cheap with our pointers.
It's not a veggie tray without a dip for dunking. We used a Buttermilk Dressing on this party tray.
Save money: Buy veggies whole and cut them up yourself. If time is a bigger concern, buy precut, but pay more.
Think seasonal: Choose produce by season and in an array of colors. Fruits and veggies not only look better and taste better in season, but also are more affordable.
Size-wise: Cut produce to a size that's easy to eat but still large enough to scoop up dips.
Repurpose leftovers: Chop up leftover veggie tray ingredients to toss into a stir-fry, casserole, omelet, or soup.
Snack math: Plan on 4–5 dippers per guest and 2–3 tablespoons dip per guest. For 12 guests, plan 48 pieces (4–6 cups dippers) and 24 tablespoons (1½ cups) dip.
Nothing tops cheese and crackers as a party starter, and the options are as endless as the variety of cheeses and crackers. Put together a stunning cheese plate with something for everyone using these tips.
Save money: Stronger cheeses like blue cheese and goat cheese stretch far since guests tend to take less per serving. Mild cheddar and Swiss are affordable crowd-pleasers.
Add interest: Roll goat cheese logs in chopped fresh herbs, nuts, or spices for extra flavor and texture.
Have variety: Serve cheeses with a variety of textures, flavors, and milk sources.
Mix and match: Buy a few types of crackers, or look for boxes that come with an assortment of flavors.
Temperature smart: Most cheese tastes best at room temperature, so arrange the tray and set it out about 30 minutes before serving.
Repurpose leftovers: Cheese is fantastic as is, but you can use leftovers from your cheese tray to top salads, sandwiches, soups, pastas, roasted veggies, casseroles, and more.
Snack math: Plan on 3–4 ounces cheese, 4–5 crackers, and 1 tablespoon spread per guest. For 12 guests, plan on 2–2½ pounds of cheese, one box of crackers, and ¾ cup or 1 jar of spread.
If you want to put together a party platter with virtually no fuss, a fruit tray is the way to go. Many fruits are already in bite-size form, so they require little prep.
Don't forget a dip for fruit dunkers. We made our tray with a Marshmallow Dip.
Choose variety: Pick fruits of varying flavors, textures, and colors for the most interesting fruit tray.
Keep it fresh: Even in season, berries and cherries can be pricey. Purchase berries just before serving since their life span isn't very long once picked.
Get ahead: Most fruit can be washed, peeled, and sliced up to 24 hours before serving. Store fruit in separate containers in the fridge until party time. Cut up apples, pears, and bananas at the last minute to avoid discoloring as they stand.
Size-wise: Cut up fruit into manageable pieces for easy dipping and eating.
Repurpose leftovers: Blend fruit leftovers into smoothies, add to salads, top ice cream, or garnish cookies and cakes.
Snack math: Plan on ½ to 1 cup fruit, 2–3 tablespoons dip, and 1 cookie per guest. For 12 guests, plan 6–8 cups fruit, 24 tablespoons (1½ cups) dip, and 12 cookies.
Charcuterie boards and trays are trendy in restaurants and as a party appetizer idea. Charcuterie is a French term for cured or cooked meats. Curing is the process of preserving meat with salt and sometimes other ingredients to add flavor. It could also involve smoking, depending on the product.
Watch cost: Charcuterie can get expensive. Cut cured meats into small, thin pieces so guests take fewer pieces. Check for sales in the meat case to save money. Adding bread, dried fruit, pickles, and nuts to the tray also helps make the food last longer.
Repurpose leftovers: Cured meats make great sandwiches or toppings for pizza or salad.
Snack math: Plan on 3–4 slices (1 ounce) meat, 2 tablespoons dip, and 2–3 crackers per guest. For 12 guests, plan on 12–16 ounces meat, 24 tablespoons (1½ cups) dip, and 24–36 crackers.