Having a gathering with family and friends, some last-minute guests, or maybe hosting your first holiday party?
My first piece of advice is to determine what type of party, gathering or event you're hosting.
Do you have a theme, color scheme, venue or a specific look/mood you’re going for?
Who are the people you’re hosting?
Do you know their taste, style, likes and dislikes?
When will the event take place? (Date, Time and Location)
Knowing what time of day the event will take place will help you determine your menu, table accessories and decor, and the types of stations you plan to have.
Next, you should ask yourself:
Do you have a budget?
Will you be serving alcoholic beverages?
If the answer is yes and you're serving wine, beer or cocktails, then you should think about what kind of appetizers will pair well with these beverages. You can also create a large pitcher of a signature cocktail that ties in with the event theme, and greet your guests with a welcome drink as they arrive.
If you're not serving alcohol, then try to spice these beverages up and enhance your appetizer selection. Add cute bottled beverages with fun straws, nice glasses, napkins, drink stirrers, wine jewelry, coasters and more!
If you have a theme, color scheme or venue, the best thing to do is go with foods that will match the feel, style and tone of the event. If you’re having a quick daytime or afternoon gathering, you should stick to bite-size tea sandwiches, quiches, vegetables, spreads, small Madeleine cookies and petite bundt cakes.
If it’s an evening event, you should serve a few hot and cold appetizers. Mix things up by adding a beef, pork, chicken, fish and/or vegetarian appetizers to your menu. Crudité stations not only add a wonderful pop of color, but there are millions of ways to style and present fresh veggies.
Wine, charcuterie and artisanal cheese are wonderful for evening affairs. I recommend kicking things up a notch by adding local products like cranberry crisps, cheese straws, speciality breads, spiced mixed nuts, olives, spreads, dried fruit, honey and other tasty finger foods.
If you know your guests, then you can customize your menu. I personally recommend tossing in 2-3 appetizers that might be a surprise for your guests so that they can try something new and different.
Try to think outside the box and be creative!
A word of advice: if you're not amazing in the kitchen, that’s totally okay! Just be sure to purchase fresh, local items. It’s best not to try and make 10 appetizers and spread yourself thin. Less is more, so know your limitations.
Make what you can and just be the hostess with the most-ess!
For more inspirational ideas, visit your local specialty market, cheese shops, wine shops, farmer's market and of course, my Pinterest page!
Most of all, have fun when you're planning your next gathering and leave your guests "wowed" by the experience they had.