In our New Year’s Eve Party Planning Challenge, we touched on serving appetizers and desserts at your party. But I really wanted to return to the topic of party appetizers, and go into that in a little more depth. How much do you need to serve? How do you choose what to serve? Hot or cold? How do you mix flavors?
Let’s assume your party will be 8 p.m. to midnight. You can skip serving dinner, but that’s a long party and your guests will need to nosh. You’ll want to serve heavy appetizers and a variety of desserts.
The thing about planning appetizers is that it’s really easy to lean towards what you really like. For instance, when I began making the lists below, it was heavy on the cheese, because I looooove cheese. And not ALL the appetizers can be on little wonderful toasty slices of French bread. Sad, but true. So I’ve divided up these ideas into a few food groups to encourage you to serve a variety of appetizer types.
Here’s another wonderful, magical thing about appetizers: they are sold in grocery stores. Buy them frozen at Target or your warehouse club. Buy from fresh from Whole Foods. Make one or two yourself, sure — but don’t run yourself ragged trying to do it all yourself. (Remember: Martha Stewart has staff.)
Appetizer Ideas – Meats
- Moroccan meatballs with pomegranate glaze / Feasting at Home
- Cranberry bacon jam crostini / Life Tastes Good
- Carrot chorizo sausage blini / Country Living
- Crockpot buffalo chicken meatballs / Jo Cooks
- Chicken parmesan sliders / Cupcake Diaries
Appetizer Ideas – Cheese
- Sparkling cranberry brie bites / Yummy Mummy Kitchen
- Parmesan cheddar basil bites / Life Love Liz
- White cheddar & spinach French bread / The Creative Bite
- Maple pecan baked brie / Fake Ginger
- Goat cheese & tomato with French bread / Dine & Dish
Appetizer Ideas – Fruit
- Salted chocolate mandarin slices / Deliciously Yum
- Brie, apple & honey crostini / Two Peas & Their Pod
- Fruit salsa with cinnamon crisps / Spend With Pennies
Appetizer Ideas – Vegetables
- Mini tomato & mozzarella tarts / Life in the Lofthouse
- Caprese bites / Jo Cooks
- Smoked salmon & cream cheese cucumber bites / Baker by Nature
- Garlic parmesan potato wedges / Creme de la Crumb
- Crab stuffed mushroom caps / Serena Bakes
- Vegetarian stuffed mushrooms / Jo Cooks
Appetizer Ideas – Dips
Appetizer Ideas – Kid-Friendly
- Pepperoni crescent roll-ups / Taste of Home
- Ham & cheese pretzel bites / Pip & Ebby
- Mini corn dogs / Just a Taste
- Apple cookies / Paleo Eats & Treats
- Nutella mini pancake kabobs / Tablespoon
Tips for Choosing Your Appetizers
In addition to choosing one item from each of the categories above, you may want to offer:
- Salty nibblers, like ChexMix or mixed nuts or pretzels or popcorn
- A crudite tray (raw veggies) with a dip. Here’s how to make a beautiful crudite platter.
- A charcuterie platter of meats, cheeses, fruit (like grapes), preserves and honey. Here’s how to make a seasonal charcuterie board.
When you make your appetizer choices, keep these tips in mind:
- Balance what you will make vs. what you will buy.
- Create a buffet with a variety of colors.
- Balance hot and cold appetizers. You don’t want to be cooking right up until your party, and keeping hot foods warm may require chafing dishes and sterno.
- What can you make a day ahead of your party?
Traditional New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day Foods
You may want to work traditional New Year’s Eve food into your party.
- It would be easy enough to put out skewered grapes (Spaniards eat 12 grapes at midnight for good luck).
- Pomegranate seeds bring prosperity, which sounds like a great excuse for a pomegranate cheese ball.
- Long noodles are supposed to bring longevity. My family’s traditional New Year’s Day meal is chili over spaghetti with cornbread muffins (they represent gold), so we cover the “traditional” foods on January 1.
- And here in the South, I’m supposed to love black eyed peas and collard greens. I don’t. If you do, knock yourself out! I’m not sure they have a place on an appetizer table.
How Much Should You Serve?
Better Homes & Gardens offers a handy serving guide for serving appetizers BEFORE dinner. Since you’re hosting an appetizers and desserts only New Year’s Eve party, and since it’s a long party, I’d double the number of appetizer selections offered.
- 10 or fewer guests = 3 appetizer selections before dinner or 6 for appetizers only
- 10-20 guests = 5 appetizer selections before dinner or 10 for appetizers only
- 20-40 guests = 7 appetizer selections before dinner or 14 for appetizers only
- More than 40 guests = 9 appetizer selections before dinner or 18 for appetizers only