This menu of Make-Ahead Party Food is pleasing for any dinner party, cocktail party, birthday, wedding reception, and beyond! Featuring both sweet and savory, each appetizer is served in its own shot glass so your guests can grab-and-go while they mingle.
Christmas is now a memory, and it’s hard to believe the New Year is just days away. Like many of you, I’ve been eating well this week, capturing some fun moments, and generally trying to soak up all the holiday spirit and goodwill before it slips away. So, I wanted to share the little workshop party we held before our holiday break.
Both savory and sweet, this menu of make-ahead party food requires little cooking, – just some assembly required. These appetizers are adaptable to any gathering, although I find them so cocktail party-worthy!
Much like My Holiday Open House Menu, I created these appetizers so I could spend more time with my guests instead of being tethered to the kitchen. After years of being both host and cook, I rely on make-ahead recipes. For a cocktail party feel, I love using clear shot glasses to make single servings. They are an inexpensive investment, like this pack of 40 for under $20. And they can be reused forever!
This is a good one to make if you have guests that are vegetarian or vegan. Buy prepared plain hummus and stir in some toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and a little garlic powder. Pipe the hummus into the bottom of 15 shot glasses. Then top each with a little Everything Bagel Seasoning just before serving.
Serve the hummus shots with a grilled crostini standing upright or bagel chips balanced on top. Consider assembling a few with gluten-free crackers on a separate tray for guests with gluten intolerance.
No cooking, no baking, just assemble and serve! Slice block mozzarella into 1-inch cubes. Then, make a dressing of olive oil, Italian spices, garlic powder, and chopped sundried tomatoes. Mix it all together and add in the cheese; toss to coat. It’s so easy and it looks special. It tastes special, too! The creamy almost blank canvas flavor of the mozzarella is enhanced by that garlicky herbaceous flavor. One tip – be sure to use a good condiment-worthy olive oil!
This is an easy evergreen appetizer that just requires dressing up some large cooked cocktail shrimp. Bloody Mary mixer is the stand-in for cocktail sauce, which is lighter and so flavorful. Charleston Bloody Mary Mix is my go-to for this appetizer. Add a little to the bottom of each of 15 shot glasses, and top with skewered shrimp that have been finished like any good Bloody Mary – with a squeeze of citrus and a generous grind of black pepper.
This cute appetizer is a good segue from our savory fare to the sweet. Why? Because it contains both sweet and savory bites. Include salted nuts, a square of sharp cheese, dark chocolate pieces, dried fruit, rosemary sprigs, artisan crackers, blue cheese-stuffed olives, berry and salami skewers.
The cones don’t have to match each other exactly. It’s good to make a few veggie friendly cones and gluten-free options. I used biodegradable natural wood cones for serving (along with cone holders), because they hold a little more food than a shot glass. But you can use 3 oz. shot glasses even small Mason jars.
They say good things come in small packages, and this is especially true for this little bubbly-inspired dessert. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and prosecco in a bowl over simmering water until thickened. It doesn’t take long at all to make a luscious sabayon. As for the citrus, you could spend a lot of time with the messy business of segmenting grapefruits and oranges. Or, you could just buy a big jar of Del Monte’s Citrus Salad. This no-sugar added option does the work for you.
Layer sabayon into shot glasses and top with the citrus. A few pomegranate arils on top of each shot will make them even prettier.
And now for something completely different! Skewered bourbon balls are made for dipping into the silky bourbon ganache they’re perched atop. This utilizes my favorite 5 Minute Bourbon Ball recipe. Bourbon balls can be made far ahead of serving because they mellow with time. These were perfect for the holidays but I can’t wait to make them for a Derby Day treat.
Regular blog readers know that panna cotta is my go-to for make-ahead desserts. This particular flavor combination is more for winter holidays. You can find the recipe for it right here. However, if you’re looking for more evergreen flavors, check out this post for White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Orange Chocolate Sauce.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this departure from the usual post. The recipe card will include most of the recipes with a couple links to the desserts that already live on the blog. I hope you can use this post as a resource to help increase the enjoyment of your gathering, while minimizing your work!
Amazing spread, Heather! Best wishes for the New Year 🎉🎊
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