Tips And Ideas For Hosting A Great Holiday Party, Plus 50 Appetizer Recipes - C'est La Vie Blog at Allrecipes.com - 287939

C'est La Vie

Tips and Ideas for Hosting a Great Holiday Party, Plus 50 Appetizer Recipes 
 
Nov. 5, 2012 10:00 am 
Updated: Aug. 11, 2014 4:11 am
Well, if you have or haven’t hosted a holiday get-together you know it can be intimidating, and overwhelming. With these tips and ideas you too can throw a memorable get-together with ease.  It’s never too early to start planning a party. You can rearrange and adjust your plans in the days and weeks to come.
Please share your tips and ideas below. I wouldn’t mind reading about some party don’ts and or tragedies too J
 
What type of party are you going to host? I prefer an elegant hors d’oeuvre soiree and that’s what I’m basing this article on.  Choosing a theme for a party allows you to make quick and easy food choices in preparing a menu and purchasing food. I always include a cheese platter no matter what the theme.
 
Pick a date: Make sure to get your invites out 2-3 weeks in advance, and include a start and end time on the invitations and request an RSVP, I know people can be rude and not respond, but if you have an idea of how many people are coming you can have enough hors d’oeuvres ready and not run out. Tip: Use Evite to email invitations, it’s free.
 
 
Live by lists: To me this is the most important part of hosting any party or get-together. I have three separate lists one for getting the house ready and one for the hors d’oeuvres I’m serving and one for shopping.
 
Getting ready: Clean the house in the beginning of the week, but save the restrooms and vacuuming for the day before the party. You won’t be as stressed out by cleaning the house early. Set your hors d’oeuvre table and decorate three days before the party.  Tip: Set the table with the platters, bowls, trays and chafing dish etc. place a post-it on each one with what hors d’oeuvre goes in or on that dish.  This will make the day of the party a breeze, trust me. J
Make sure to have a separate table for drinks, I usually serve red and white wine Tip: I put wine glasses out with wine charm rings already on the glasses; beer, soda (pop), water, and a hot beverage. I have been known to have a martini station too. Tip: Pick a martini you want to serve, mix ingredients in a large pitcher and set aside. Have an ice bucket with ice and martini shakers ready to go. I have a bunch or martini glasses lined up and ready for my guests to grab, they can pour the martini mix into the shakers add ice, shake and serve themselves.
 
Make sure to pay attention to the little details that set the mood for your party. I place folding chairs and a few of those folding TV trays about so people can have somewhere to sit and place drinks etc. while mingling. Tip: Buy a few yards of holiday fabric and cut it to fit over those ugly TV trays, very festive! Choose music that is soft and not too loud, instrumental, jazz, classical or holiday music works best. Dim the lights and add candles, make sure no one gets burned. Add small touches like flowers, bowls of nuts and disposable hand towels in the restrooms.
 
Food: Well it’s time to talk food, my favorite subject. I plan my menu of hors d’oeuvres and make my shopping list. Serve a few hot items and the rest at room temperature or cold. By serving only a few hot items you can spend most of the party mingling and having fun. I always have a large chafing dish on the table with one or two items in it like chicken wings, meatballs, sausages etc., and the other hot item I serve on a platter fresh out of the oven.  I place them on a platter and either put them on the table, or walk around and serve them to my guests; this way I can chat with everyone too.  Tip: Always have an extra baking sheet full of hors d’oeuvres in the fridge ready to go into the oven.  The way you present the food adds to the mood of your party; create elegant platters and food presentations, this brings a touch of sophistication to your soiree.  I buy a mix of crackers, and flat breads as well as baguettes, this not only looks nice it gives your guests an array to choose from. Serve a couple of cold dips and one or 2 hot dips or baked cheese. For the cheese platter serve the cheese in wedges with a cheese knife, Tip: Add placards with the names of the cheese you are offering.
Serve one soft cheese like brie, a hard cheese like aged cheddar, one made from goat or sheep’s milk, and either a blue or gorgonzola cheese. I put fresh and dried fruit on the platters as well as some nuts a little honey to drizzle over the blue or gorgonzola is always a plus. I also like to serve a hard cheese like manchego cheese on a separate cheese board with a small dish of pear honey.  I could go on forever about different cheeses and what I like but that’s another story.  Add a couple more platters of hors d’oeuvres and dessert Tip: Serve an array of desserts, homemade and/or store bought; and you are ready to party!
 
Hors d’ oeuvres list: Reads like this: 2 days before:  list the food you can prepare or prep for, two days before the party. 1 day before: list the food you can prepare or prep the day before the party, and the Day of: list the food you need to make the day of the party. The day of the party is usually just the food I need to cook, everything else is made ahead and plated wrapped and refrigerated. Tip: As you finish each item I mark it off the list, this way nothing gets forgotten.
Don’t forget to let your cheese and dips come to room temperature the day of the party J
 
 
Here are 50 appetizer recipes you can choose from for your next party. I have made some of these and some are on my “to do” list:
 

Antipasto Kabobs

Antipasto Skewers

Asparagus, Prosciutto and Fontina Tart

Asparagus Wrapped in Crisp Prosciutto

Apple Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Bacon and Date Appetizer

Bacon and Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms

Baked Brie with Caramelized Pears, Shallots and Thyme

Blue Cheese and Red Onion Jam Crescent Thumbprints

Boursin on a Budget

Breaded Toasted Ravioli

Brown Sugar Smokies

Candied Garlic Chicken Wings

Cheese Thumbprint Appetizer with Hot Pepper Jelly

Cocktail Meatballs

Cream Cheese Pancakes with Smoked Salmon

Creamy Dill Cucumber Toasties

Deviled Mixed Nuts

Dip For the Stars

Dried Cherries, Pecans, and Rosemary Brie en Croute

Elegant Fig Appetizers with Goat Cheese and Almonds

Fig and Olive Tapenade

Butternut Squash Bruschetta with Sage Pesto

Gorgonzola and Olive Stuffed Grape Leaves

Grilled Poblano and Mango Quesadillas

Holiday Brie en Croute

Hot Dip

Kickin’ Cocktail Sauce

Maple-Pepper Salmon Bites

Mini Corncakes with Basil, Avocado Spread and Smoked Salmon

Meyer Lemon Olive Oil and Honey Spread

Nutty Bacon Cheeseball

Onion Tart

Pear and Blue Cheese Pastry Triangles

Roasted Grape, Blue cheese, and Honey Crostini

Rye Whiskey Brie

Savory Blue Cheese Cheesecake with Cherry Pear Compote and Cherry Balsamic Glaze

Savory Blue Cranberry Shortbread with Caramelized Onion Cranberry Jam

Shrimpcargot

Shrimp Scampi Cheesecake Appetizer

Spicy Maryland Crab Dip

Spinach Dip with Water Chestnuts

Spicy Candied Pecans and Cranberries

Stuffed Artichoke Hearts

Toasted Almond Party Spread

Tuscan Cream Cheese Spread

Vidalia Sweet Onion Dip

Vegetable Pizza I

Wine Bar Nut Mix

Yummy Artichoke Dip

 
Game: At some point when everyone has stuffed themselves, I like to play a game called “Night before Christmas” right/left game. I buy 5 or 6 gifts suitable for men or women, wrap them and have them ready to go. Tip: Purchase gifts at Bed Bath and Beyond, using coupons you get in the mail. Start saving them now and when December rolls around you should have a couple 20% off coupons and one or two 5 dollar off coupons, or ask your family, friends and neighbors if you can have theirs.
Have everyone sit in a circle and give a gift to every fifth person (depending on how many people are at the party, just distribute the gifts evenly in the circle of people). This is a really fun game that everyone will talk about it for months after, I don’t know if that’s true, but it sounds good hehehe.
Happy Holidays!
 
Comments
Nov. 5, 2012 10:06 am
Thanks! and I loved -and saved- Your appetizer list. :)
 
Nov. 5, 2012 10:11 am
What a great blog Celeste. I love all of your tips and all of those appetizer recipes. I plan my parties similar to yours but I did learn some new great tips. Thanks!
 
Nov. 5, 2012 10:19 am
Thank you foodiemonster and missykitty :)
 
Nov. 5, 2012 10:24 am
great tips, Celeste, I never plan the fancy parties, but follow the same steps with my casual parties. LIsts of things to do and make each day prior to party are very important and much easier to do when you are in the planning stages. Cleaning, decorating and setting the room, table, etc before is a great time saver. We eat in the living room on TV trays every time I have the dining table set for a party. Setting out the dishes to be used allows you to plan and organize the layout well in advance. I also add hairspray, spray deodorant and hand creams to the bathroom for every party, wedding or get together. The family knows that I bring a tray of these things to any hall, church basement, etc.
 
Pixie2 
Nov. 5, 2012 10:25 am
Thanks for all the tips!!
 
Nov. 5, 2012 10:36 am
Great tips redneck gramma, thanks!
 
Nov. 5, 2012 10:37 am
Thanks PIXIE2 :)
 
Nov. 5, 2012 10:37 am
Wow! great blog and tips. I think I'll just head on over to your place for Thanksgiving dinner. I'll have to check out that mega appy list. Thanks for posting it. :)
 
Nov. 5, 2012 10:39 am
Thanks Sherri!
 
Nov. 5, 2012 10:45 am
also your game idea, is great. When I sold T/W for years we always played a game, it was an ice breaker, a way to meet people, etc. Very important and I think that is why everyone plays games at showers-just to get people laughing and mingling a little.
 
Nov. 5, 2012 10:56 am
It really is a lot of fun redneck gramma, sometimes I'll speed up reading and then watch everyone try to get the right/left passing in order, it's a laugh.
 
Nov. 5, 2012 12:55 pm
hi celeste. you are certainly someone that i read and trust with your menu choices. i really do wish you could make a redneck round-up. anything you recommend, ( even if i don't like some of the ingredients) makes me rethink and therefore make it. great blog!
 
Nov. 5, 2012 1:18 pm
Glad I saw your post, I confess I have been passing on most of the ambassador blogs about Thanksgiving and "How to Have a Halloween Party". I think the butter and twig blogs might have put me off. I really appreciated your tips. I do believe I will use a few for the next roundup :)(:
 
Nov. 5, 2012 1:33 pm
Thanks Gary, I would love to come to a round-up, maybe next year, and thanks!
 
Nov. 5, 2012 1:35 pm
Thanks Cat Hill! I'm no longer an ambassador, but with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years around the corner I thought this would be a fun blog to post :)
 
Nov. 5, 2012 4:27 pm
Celeste,thank you for doing all this work.You must be a wonderful hostess.Your tips and recipes are just great,will you come to my house next time i have a party?I enjoyed reading this.Thanks again.
 
Nov. 5, 2012 4:41 pm
Hi manella! Thank you, it was a lot of work, espically linking all the recieps to the names, AR has some issues with their site, and I had to delete the whole think twice. Thank goodness I have it saved in word :) I love to host parties, and if you lived near by I'd do it ;)
 
Nov. 5, 2012 5:13 pm
I've copied this whole post into my recipe book. Thanks, Celeste!
 
Nov. 5, 2012 5:27 pm
Hi Celeste,if you ever find yourself in Nova Scotia,it's a deal.
 
Nov. 5, 2012 5:45 pm
Thanks for all the recipe and tips, Celeste. I am having my family down for the first time for our annual Christmas get together! It was my mom's turn but she just wasn't up to it so they all said they would drive the 4-5 hours and come to my place! I am really excited and really nervous. I am doing lasagna, simple carnitas and white chili and some appz and desserts! Love the idea of cheese trays! Thanks, again!
 
Nov. 5, 2012 6:41 pm
Where's my invitation? I want to come to one of your parties! Great blog, and you sure put a lot of thought and time into it. Great suggestions! Sounds like you're the hostess with the mostest.
 
Nov. 5, 2012 7:04 pm
Hi Mike, you're welcome :)
 
Nov. 5, 2012 7:05 pm
Shanon, I'm sure you'll have a lot of fun hosting this year. Nothing like family sitting around and being together. Your menu sounds great!
 
Nov. 5, 2012 7:06 pm
Thanks MB! Stop by anytime :)
 
Nov. 5, 2012 7:45 pm
I'm coming with carryout containers...
 
Nov. 5, 2012 8:48 pm
Excellent! Thank you for sharing Celeste! We love having folks over. What a great help this will be. Saved!
 
Seeker 
Nov. 5, 2012 8:56 pm
What a wonderful array of tips and recipes. How kind of you. Thanks Celeste!
 
Nov. 5, 2012 9:36 pm
hehehe MB ;)
 
Nov. 5, 2012 9:37 pm
Thanks Candice, glad you like it.
 
Nov. 5, 2012 9:38 pm
Thank you Seekery, you're welcome!!
 
Nov. 6, 2012 7:46 am
Another helpful tip~ Extra containers for guest to take home leftovers! I don't need all that food in my house after they leave! :)
 
Nov. 6, 2012 8:41 am
Great suggestions!
 
Nov. 6, 2012 9:05 am
That's a great tip Shanon :) Thanks!
 
Nov. 6, 2012 9:06 am
Thank you jrbaker :)
 
Cheepy 
Nov. 6, 2012 3:11 pm
You are an ANGEL! Lol! Awesome tips and I love that list of appy's too. :o)
 
Nov. 6, 2012 3:47 pm
Thanks cheepchick!
 
Nov. 6, 2012 3:48 pm
So many great tips and recipes! Thanks, Celeste!
 
Nov. 6, 2012 5:30 pm
You're welcome Patches :)
 
Nov. 8, 2012 5:56 pm
Terrific suggestions Celeste...but can't I just hire you???
 
Nov. 8, 2012 7:23 pm
Why yes, you can ;) Thanks Wyattdogster!
 
Nov. 9, 2012 6:04 am
I was thinking of past holiday dinners and thought of this suggestion to add. Besides making those all important lists, keep them in a spiral notebook or a binder so you can find them :) The year I did the big dinner for the first time, I listed all the foods and the times it would take to make it. It helped keeping me on track and much to everyone's surprise dinner was on time!
 
Nov. 9, 2012 10:01 am
Great tip Cat Hill! You are so right, especially when making big dinners.
 
Nov. 9, 2012 4:39 pm
I love the Savory Blue Cheese Cheesecake that you suggested. I skip the crust step and divide the mixture into ramekins and bake. Then I store them in the freezer to pull out and top at the last minute. Awesome blog Celeste!
 
Nov. 9, 2012 6:27 pm
Oh, great idea mauigirl, and thank you! :)
 
SueC 
Nov. 11, 2012 3:55 pm
Celeste, what a great blog and perfect timing! Great tips and recipes included. I saved it for future reference. Your parties sounds right up my alley! Happy Holidays
 
Nov. 15, 2012 12:30 pm
Thank you SueC, I'm glad it will come in handy :)
 
Dec. 8, 2012 11:58 am
Awesome, Celeste! Am going to keep this handy! Great tips! I'm a little OCD in preplanning and am often teased about all my lists! I picked up a few new tips! Thank you!
 
Dec. 10, 2012 11:14 pm
Thank you mickdee, I too am a little OCD, at least that's what my DH says. So I'm a perfectionist :) Hope you have a great party!
 
Staci 
May 7, 2013 9:34 am
Celeste, this is Awesome! All the tips & recipes will really put me ahead of the game for my sister's wedding party!
 
May 12, 2013 12:32 am
Thanks Staci! :)
 
Dec. 24, 2013 7:45 am
Thank you so much for posting this! This is a great blog! I love all the tips and the collection of recipes. I have it bookmarked. I am sure that it will be useful when we have our next soiree. Thanks again. You rock!
 
Dec. 28, 2013 3:27 pm
Thank you Cookie Momster! Have an amazing holiday!
 
Aug. 11, 2014 4:11 am
I was going to print the antipasto kabob recipe - AND DID NOT SAVE IT TO MY RB!!!!! [~ boo hoo ~] I was all set to wade through your RB to find it, when your blog caught my eye! Yay! ~whew~ (= Thank you!
 
 
 
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Celeste

Home Town
Saint Helena, California, USA
Living In
Santa Rosa, California, USA

Member Since
Mar. 2005

Cooking Level
Expert

Cooking Interests
Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Frying, Dessert, Gourmet

Hobbies
Gardening, Walking, Photography, Reading Books, Music, Wine Tasting, Charity Work

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About Me
I was born and raised in the restaurant business. My parents owned a hotel with a restaurant, and my grandma and great grandma owned a restaurant too. So needless to say I grew up cooking, and I love to do it. If you want to find me, check the Recipe Buzz; I'm there most days.
My favorite things to cook
I love to make appetizers. We host several parties a year and always have a table full of beautiful hors d'oeuvres. There are a so many wonderful appetizers to choose from.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Tacos are my favorite family tradidition. My family makes tacos different than most places, and that's why I always get asked to make them.
My cooking triumphs
When I really like something in a restaurant, I'll write down the ingredients, go home and make it. My husband says mine is always better than the restaurants. He says he's not prejudice, but then again he is my husband and he doesn't like sleeping on the couch (just kidding, LOL).
My cooking tragedies
Well, my last cooking tragedy was me dropping a cake on the floor as I was taking it out of the oven, it did stay in the pan but was all broken up. You all know where I'm going with this... CAKE BALLS!
 
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