Small Bites for Holiday Parties

Event planner Debi Lilly shares tips and recipes for a holiday party.
Holiday table settings
Host a Holiday Party
If you are hosting a holiday party at your place, great food and a fantastic atmosphere are a must.

Event planner Debi Lilly planned a Christmas Eve dinner for a Chicago-area family and designed these formal table settings for more than a dozen. She says you can do the same. "So many people worry that they can't have a large group over for the holidays because they can't seat everyone," Lilly says. 

Her solution is to move your furniture out of the way and rent long tables and extra chairs to accommodate your guests. Or, she says you can use an event planning industry tip. "Take two 4 x 8 sheets of plywood and place them over your table," she says. You then cover the plywood with a table cloth and weigh it down with your centerpieces. Lilly says you can easily seat four to six more people at your dining room table by using plywood. "And the plywood is so inexpensive, just $10 or so a sheet."

Once you have your seating arranged, the next most important thing for a successful holiday party is...the food! Whether you're hosting a formal sit-down meal or something more casual, appetizers, drinks and desserts should be on the menu. Lilly suggests some ideas your guests will love.
Sweet Potato Bisque Shooters
Sweet Potato Bisque Shooters
Soup is the perfect cold-weather food, but serving bowls of hot soup at a party isn't ideal if people are standing around, mingling and mixing. Try making Sweet Potato Bisque Shooters, conveniently served in shot glasses.
Steak and Horseradish Crostini
Steak and Horseradish Crostini
You don't have to serve filet mignon at your party. Instead, buy some flank steak at the supermarket and make your guests' mouths water by whipping up Steak and Horseradish Crostini.
Smoked Salmon Roulades
Smoked Salmon Roulades
No need to buy a lot of groceries to prepare an elegant appetizer! The recipe for Smoked Salmon Roulades requires just four ingredients and makes 24 servings. 
Merry Cosmo
A Very Merry Cocktail
Cosmos may not seem like a creative holiday drink, but with a few special ingredients you can prepare very Merry Cosmos sure to impress your guests. For a festive garnish, thread fresh cranberries onto short wooden skewers and serve. 
Candy Bar
End the Evening with a Candy Bar
After some savory bites, it's time for sweets! Lilly suggests treating your guests to an interactive candy bar. You can purchase apothecary jars at craft or home goods stores and fill them with color-coordinated candies from the grocery store. Or you can fill dishes and jars from your cupboards with your favorite candies, Lilly says. "Buy small scoops from a specialty food store or set out teaspoons and let people gather around the table and fill their own small bags of candy," she says. "It's a great way to serve dessert!"

More holiday party ideas