I love going all out for the holidays, but what I don’t love is being stuck in the kitchen at my own party. I used to think I had to slave away like Martha to be the hostess with the mostest. But the truth is the best parties are the impromptu ones, when you can whip up a few finger foods, shake up some cocktails and mingle with your friends all night long. (Get 7 expert tips for easy holiday entertaining here.)
The 6 practically instant appetizers below and these 3 helpful tips are my secret weapons for the best party ever, without a lot of work:
Tip 1. Save money on booze. Most guests want to contribute something to the party. Let them bring the wine so you can focus on the food. Or e-mail them a yummy cocktail recipe to make.
Tip 2. Break out the cloth napkins. It’s a nice touch. It makes guests feel special. And it’s such an easy thing to do. Plus, it’s better for the environment than using paper napkins. But should you use cotton or linen? Find out here.
Tip 3. No cook, no fuss. I don’t bother with the oven or stove—it can be too stressful with everything else going on. All of these appetizer recipes are no-cook, so there’s no need to worry about timers or burning or keeping things warm. Just assemble and serve!
Get the recipe: Tomato-Basil Skewers
Skewering mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes makes them easy to nosh at a party.
Get the recipe: Apricot Canapes
These sweet and savory bites are like a cheese course in a bite.
Get the recipe: Smoked Salmon Tartare
These are gorgeous. Smoked salmon gets an added crunch when served on radish slices.
Get the recipe: Date Wraps
Sweet dates and salty prosciutto combine in a tasty bite.
Get the recipe: Herbed Olives
Dried herbs and crushed garlic dress up your favorite olives in this quick appetizer.
Get the recipe: Pistachios & Cherries
Keep a batch of this mix on hand for any impromptu get-together.
What's your secret-weapon app to serve at a party? Tell us what you think below.