Party Appetizers & Finger Foods

Written by lori burke
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Party Appetizers & Finger Foods
Tasty appetizers contribute to a party's success. (Todd Warnock/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Party goers typically congregate around the food. With some preplanning and preparation, appetizers and finger foods can offer the best variety for the least effort. You can buy and serve pre-made finger foods or create your own. If you want to be known as the host with the most, consider carefully your time, expertise and budget, then use your imagination to choose from a nearly limitless variety of appetizer and finger-food recipes.

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Party-Themed Appetizers

Streamline your appetizer choices by picking a theme for your party. For example, host a Mexican fiesta, a 60s night, or a chocolate lover's party, and build your appetizer menu around the theme. Mexican fiestas might serve mini quesadillas and refried bean or guacamole dip. For a 60s party, serve devilled eggs or pigs-in-a-blanket -- cocktail wieners wrapped in crescent rolls. Chocolate lovers will enjoy chocolate-dipped strawberries. Having a theme can help focus your menu choices.

Hot Options

If you decide to serve hot appetizers, consider how much oven and microwave space you have and if you can conveniently serve hot items without upping your stress level. Some hot appetizers can be prepared ahead and heated just before serving. Crock pots can be used to cook items ahead of time, and chafing dishes are great options for keeping food warm for serving throughout the party.

Hot appetizers can include, for example, spreads, soups, dips, wings, ribs and kebabs. Options can be tied into your party's theme. For example, serve Cajun-flavoured chicken wings at a Mardis Gras bash, a warm seafood dip at a lobster fest and mini meatballs at an Italian celebration.

Cold Options

Cold appetizers offer the best options for make-ahead appetizers. Some can be prepared and frozen days in advance and thawed the day of your party. For example, make ahead and freeze mini pastries that can be thawed and topped with jellies, vegetables, cream cheese or pate -- a meat spread such as ground liver. Fruit, vegetable and cheese trays make colourful and healthy additions to any party. For the best cost and taste, choose fruits and vegetables that are in season and readily available.

Cold appetizers might include, for example, vegetable, fruit, cheese or seafood dips, spreads and sauces that can be served with chips, crackers and breads. Raw fish, such as salmon and tuna, or seafood, such as shrimp, make flavourful toppings.

Options for Dipping and Spreading

Most appetizers and finger-food menus include breads, wraps, rolls, crackers and chips for dipping and spreading. Melba toasts, pita slices and seasoned crackers can all enhance already tasty toppings. You can buy crackers and chips in many shapes and sizes designed especially for dipping, spreading or topping. If you have time, you can make your own. For example, cut pita bread into mini triangles for quick and tasty dippers, and bake mini pastries for topping. Garlic toast is a tasty dipper at any Italian party. Breakfast brunches might include mini quiche and muffins.

Accommodating Food Preferences and Allergies

You can find appetizers to suit all party guests' tastes, including, for example, vegetarians, or those subject to allergies, such as wheat or dairy. Dairy-free ideas include fruit salad or raw vegetables with hummus or guacamole dip. Suggestions for gluten-free appetizers for those allergic to wheat include seafood, fish, fruit and vegetable recipes for dipping or spreading. Vegetarian appetizers ideas include recipes using only cheese, fruit, eggs and vegetables. A variety of cookbooks and Internet websites are dedicated to recipes for people with food limitations and preferences.

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