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Appetizers That Are Sure to Make Your Party Memorable

mini appetizers in a platter
Appetizers or hors d'oeuvres are one of the easiest ways to add excitement and stimulate conversation as well as add a festive atmosphere.


Chances are that you already have plans for New Year’s Eve. It may be to celebrate quietly or maybe you have a big party in mind. Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, make sure hors d’oeuvres are included in the plan.

Appetizers or hors d’oeuvres are one of the easiest ways to add excitement and stimulate conversation among guests, as well as add a festive atmosphere. The varieties of savory and innovative appetizers are endless. With careful planning and advanced preparation, mouth-watering appetizers can be made with a minimal amount of time and effort.

Party Planning

When selecting appetizers, keep in mind the type of occasion, menu, number of guests, and the time needed to prepare each course. Those that can be made ahead of time and frozen, then heated at the last minute, are good choices.

 When appetizers appear as the main menu feature, plan a wide variety.You may experiment with some that suggest just a hint of foreign cuisine, but also serve other more traditional ones and you’ll be sure to please practically all your guests.

When deciding between hot and cold appetizers, consider the amount of space available in the refrigerator and oven. It is best to make dips and spreads in advance; many times their flavor improves if stored in the refrigerator two or three days before serving. If serving hot appetizers, they need to be served in stages, so as the guests finish one batch, another piping hot one is ready. Electric plates or chafing dishes also are convenient for keeping hors d’oeuvres warm.

 When serving more than one kind of appetizer, offer a variety of contrasting colors, textures and flavors. A cool creamy yogurt dip with fresh vegetables, a rich cheese and crab fondue, a dish of sweet and sour meatballs, and curried chicken spread is a multi-taste and texture combination. Don’t be afraid to serve exotic or spicy appetizers. For calorie conscious guests, try to provide a few lower-calorie options.

In general, the number of appetizers needed will depend upon the length of time the guests will remain. For a four hour period, plan on approximately eight appetizers per person during the first two hours and four appetizers per person for the remaining two hours.

If serving appetizers on one central table, dress it up. Let your imagination run wild and be creative. Use the traditional floral centerpiece or decorate with top hats, confetti, tiara’s, and canes. It’s not the amount you spend on decorations that counts, but that you make it memorable.

Appetizer presentation can be enhanced by using the food itself as decoration. Huge crackers make novel display platters for molded spreads or sliced meat and cheeses. Festive containers for dips and spreads can be made by scooping out squash, eggplant, tomatoes, green or red peppers, apples, pineapples, melons or avocados. Braided or shaped bread loaves can also be hollowed out and filled with dips or spreads. For elegant finger sandwiches, use cookie cutters to cut the bread. Also, instead of spreading the filling on open-faced sandwiches, use a pastry bag to apply an attractive swirl.

No matter what appetizers you choose to serve at your New Year’s Eve party, remember to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

As you prepare your menu, consider some of these appetizers. They are sure to be a hit with your guests.

Pita Triangles

1 packet (1 oz.) Ranch dressing mix

1/2 cup butter, softened

6 pita pocket breads, separated into 12 rounds

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

Combine dressing mix and butter. Spread 2 teaspoons of mixture on rough side of each round; sprinkle with one-half teaspoon sesame seed. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8 minutes or until crisp. Immediately cut each one into 6 wedges. Yield: 72 wedges.


Shrimp and Cheddar Snacks


2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup mayonnaise

6 ounces shrimp, chopped, rinsed and drained

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

42 slices snack rye brad, toasted

Combine cheese, mayonnaise, shrimp, onion, and garlic powder; mix well. Spread 1 tablespoon over each slice of bread; place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake in a 350 degrees F oven for 7 - 9 minutes or until bubbly. Serve hot. Yield: 3 ½ dozen.

Ham Rolls

 8 ounces light cream cheese

3 tablespoons ground almonds

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon mustard

4 slices ham - sliced thin enough to roll

 Combine the first eight ingredients and mix until thoroughly blended. Spread mix evenly on the ham slices. Roll and slice into disks. Serve on crackers, bread or with toothpicks.

 White Cheese Ball

 2 (8 ounce) packages light cream cheese

1 package ranch salad dressing mix

1 cup chopped pecans or nuts (optional)

dried parsley


Bring cream cheese to room temperature. Mix cream cheese and dressing mix together until ingredients are well blended. Shape mixture into a ball; sprinkle cheese ball with parsley and oregano. Then gently pat chopped nuts into ball. Serve with crackers, chops or bread slices cut with cookie cutters.


By Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609


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