It seems counterintuitive to go big on appetizers when you could just open a bag of chips, but starting off with a wow-worthy hors d'oeuvre is easier than you think. Make mini meatballs the week (or even month) before, throw them in the freezer, and thaw them in the fridge the day before your party. An hour before guests arrive, transfer the meatballs to a slow cooker and let them simmer away on low. (It's worth borrowing a friend's if you don't have one, since the cooker doesn't throw off any heat and will keep food warm for hours without burning.) Set out toothpicks and cocktail napkins, and trust us, no one will be asking where the cheese and crackers are.
Get the recipes: Chicken Meatballs and Spicy Pork Meatballs