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 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.

The 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!

Skewering mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes makes them easy to nosh at a party.

These sweet and savory bites are like a cheese course in a bite.

These are gorgeous. Smoked salmon gets an added crunch when served on radish slices.

Sweet dates and salty prosciutto combine in a tasty bite.

Dried herbs and crushed garlic dress up your favorite olives in this quick appetizer.

Keep a batch of this mix on hand for any impromptu get-together.