debbie possum pie

My next appearance on THV Channel 11’s This Morning program will be Wednesday, December 10 when my topic will be Make Ahead Appetizers. During this very busy holiday season, we can all use a little help with whatever time-saving measures are available to us. With a little pre-planning, appetizers can be made ahead of your party or event and save you  time with last minute preparation and serving. Being a host who is stuck in the kitchen while the party’s going on in the living room, is no fun and no way to enjoy your guests.

Here are some general suggestions and recommendations for selecting appetizers that won’t break the bank or your back:

  • Choose appetizers that can be made ahead. Many can be prepared in advance and frozen then reheated shortly before the start of your party.
  • Plan on a variety of flavors, textures and colors; consider whether there will be both hot and cold items. Appetizers that can be served at room temperature are easier, in my opinion, than those that need to be kept hot. Food safety necessitates that cold appetizers need to be kept cold; hot appetizers need to be kept hot. Foods needing refrigeration should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours
  • Plan on approximately 6 – 8 appetizer servings per person during the first two hours of your open house or drop-in; fewer will be needed if the appetizers are being served prior to dinner.
  • Let your appetizers fit the occasion. Casual dips and chips are just fine for a watch party or game night; hot crab dip in a chafing dish would be more appropriate for a dressy cocktail party.
  • Generally, I prefer to serve only savory dishes as appetizers unless the event lasts more than 2 hours when I would also include sweets, but I would probably serve those in a separate locations.
  • If it’s a mix and mingle event, then I do my best to only serve finger foods so that guests aren’t keeping up with silverware as well as a serving plate, napkin and glass.
  • If you have the space, spread your appetizers out in several locations so that your guests are encouraged to mingle.
  • A cocktail party enables hosts to entertain more people and enables them to mix more than a typical dinner party.
  • A party of longer duration that is not followed by dinner would be an “open house” of 3 or 4 hours.  Since some guests might actually be there for the entire duration and would probably seek more extensive food, a light buffet is generally provided.
  • Depending on the season and the time of day (an open house can begin in mid-afternoon), the buffet could include cold salads and platters, hot foods or a mix.
  • You can, of course, have hors d’oeuvres/appetizers as well as buffet items at an open house, and you can serve a buffet at a cocktail party.
  • Be creative with your serving containers. For example, use hollowed purple cabbage to hold vegetable dip You’ll save yourself a lot of expense as well as time spent in clean up.
  • Not everything has to be homemade by you! Take advantage of the local market deli for marinated olives, vegetables, cheeses, and meats. I promise your guests will think you are quite a resourceful host.

  Here’s a handy chart that might help you in your planning:

Calculating The Number Of  Appetizers Needed  

Dinner Party  Number of Guests 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 50 55 60  100
Butler Passed Style Number Pieces Needed 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 200 220 240 400
Buffet Style Number Pieces Needed  60 90 120 150 180 210 240 300 330 360 600


Cocktail Party Number of Guests 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 50 55 60  100
Butler Passed Style Number Pieces Needed  80 120 160 200 240 280 320 400 440 480 800
Number of trays needed 7 10 14 17 20 24 27 34 37 40 67
Buffet Style  Number Pieces Needed  100 150 200 250 300 350 400 500 550 600 1000

Source: The Nibble

Here are a few of our easy Make Ahead Appetizers:

 Misti’s Marinated Cheese

marinated cheese vert 620

Smoked Trout Dip

trout dip ©diningwithdebbie

Black-eyed Pea Salad on Belgian Endive

diningwithdeb black eyed pea salad on endive 2

THV II This Morning Appearances:

National Biscuit Month
Possum Pie
Roasted Banana and Toasted Walnut Ice Cream
Pumpkin Favorites