Hors d’Oeuvres for a Holiday Party

Hors d’oeuvres can be easy and fun – and make your next party shine!

By FamilyTime


Whether you’re planning a large or small holiday party, the key to success is to plan ahead. This frees up your time on the day of the party so that you can relax and enjoy the festivities once they begin.

Luckily, a lot of party food is easy to make ahead of time. Even fancy hors d’oeuvres can be prepared in advance and assembled or reheated just before the party begins.

Cold Hors d’Oeuvres
This category encompasses everything from dips to patés. Even elegant dips, such as those made with sun-dried tomatoes, crabmeat, or salmon, can be made a day or two ahead of times. Check the recipe for storage instructions.

Spreads, which are similar to dips but thicker, can be made in advance, too. Think about olive, smoked fish, vegetable, and cheese spreads.

Spiced nuts are great at a party. These can be made several days before the party and stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

Patés, also called terrines in reference to the loaf-shaped pans in which they are made, can be made even further in advance. These mixtures of ingredients such as liver, sausage, salmon, and smoked trout hold up very well for up to a week at least. Again, read the recipe.

Mousses, served on crackers or thin slices of bread, can also be prepared ahead of time and held in the refrigerator until party time. Cheese balls are easy to make and serve and can be made ahead of time.

A crudité platter is a great hit at a large party. Guests love the raw vegetables and creamy dip. For the party-giver, the platter or basket filled to overflowing with colorful veggies is a dramatic addition to the buffet table.

While you should not prep the vegetables more than a day in advance, the dip for the crudité can be made ahead of time. If the dip is thick, mound it in a hollowed-out squash. Dips with thinner consistencies do well in hollowed-out bell peppers.

Hot Hors d’Oeuvres
Hot finger foods are usually the hit of the party. Everyone loves cheese puffs, tiny onion tarts, clams oregano, and oven-fried shrimp.

Usually, two or three different hot hors d’oeuvres are plenty for a party. No need to plan on any more.

Pastry crusts, cheese crackers, and puffs can be made well ahead of time and frozen. You can also buy pre-baked pastry cups that you can fill with a savory filling and heat. These are wonderful time savers.

Yeast breads such as focaccia and brioche can be baked and frozen until the day of the party. Heat them up and serve them with spreads and dips.

Small biscuits, flavored with anything from black pepper to shredded cheese, can be baked ahead of time, too, and served filled with slices of ham or smoked turkey. While they may be best baked just before serving, doing so is less convenient.

Finally, don’t forget about buying very good French or Italian bread, slicing it thin, spreading it with olive oil and garlic and toasting it. These toasts are delicious on their own but are especially good topped with mousses, pates, spreads, and vegetable salads.

Store-Bought Shortcuts
Gourmet shops, bakeries, small markets, and even large supermarkets are treasure troves for the creative host. Buy fancy olives, spreads, dips, breads, hard susages, and cocktail mixes to supplement your homemade fare.

These delicious store-bought tidbits are excellent ways to make your life easier and your party more fun. They can quickly add up, so unless you have a big budget, shop wisely and plan to combine foods you prepare yourself with these delights.

If you design a menu and stick to it, plan your time right, read the recipes carefully, shop and prepare ahead of time, on the day of the party, you will find yourself only reheating, assembling, and plating the food.

And you surely will hear the phrase, music to every host’s ears: “The food is great!”