Menu: Easy Appetizer Platter Party

Menu and suggestions from Rick Rodgers, Christmas 101. We will use this plan for our next open house. Rodgers’ main rule is “serve no individual appetizers that must be passed on a tray.” So that rules out stuffed mushrooms or anything fussy that gets cold quickly. With his party plan, you just have to refill platters during the party. Rodgers says, “Choose make-ahead recipes and serve big bowls of tasty food that guests can serve themselves.”

Food suggestions:

  • Chex mix or other snack mix
  • Cheese ball (sweet or savory) served with crackers
  • Cheese straws or breadsticks, such as thin grissini
  • Cookies
  • Fresh fruit, cut up into small pieces, or a fruit salad
  • Lasagna, enchiladas, stuffed shells or other do-ahead casseroles
  • Marinated olives. I like the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated (The Best Recipe: Italian Classics)
  • Meatballs with sauce in a slow cooker. My favorite: 2 lbs prepared turkey meatballs or 2 lbs turkey kielbasa, sliced, with 16 oz can whole cranberry sauce, 12 oz chili sauce (such as Ho-made brand), and 1 T lemon juice.
  • Sandwich station: Ham or turkey breast for slicing. Basket of rolls with condiments for guests to make sandwiches (mayo, mustard, and chutney)
  • Spiced nuts
  • Tortellini salad
  • Warm dip or savory spreads served with potato chips, pita crisps, or cut-up raw vegetables (crudités: such as snow pea pods, celery sticks, baby-cut carrots, bell pepper strips, broccoli florets, or steamed asparagus spears)

Beverage suggestions

“You can be a party host or a bartender, but not both,” Rodgers cautions. He likes to serve two seasonal beverages: one hot and one cold (like eggnog or sparkling cider). Simmer spiced cider in a large sauce pot on the stove. Use a punch bowl for cold beverages. See also ideas for pitcher drinks.

  • At least one seasonal beverage in a large batch: mulled wine or hot cider
  • Bottles of assorted wine, sparkling cider, or beer in tubs of ice
  • A few bottles of liquor and mixers, so guests can make their own cocktails
  • Pitchers of margaritas, sangria, or mojitos; pitchers of lemonade or non-alcoholic punch