Take Gourmet Shortcuts
Easily assembled, low-prep appetizers can be as flavorful and sophisticated as tartlets or dumplings. "Buy jars of roasted red peppers, olive tapenade and pesto," says Christo. "I keep baguettes in my freezer. If you turn on the broiler and you slice up your frozen baguette, you're five minutes to fast crostini. In the meantime, you can set out any other dips you have in pretty bowls, and you have a full set of appetizers." Christo suggests keeping fancy cheeses on hand during the holiday season, but if all you've got in the fridge is a hunk of Cheddar and something you're pretty sure is Parmesan, remember that if you have any nonperishable goods like fig jam or dried fruit in your pantry, these can instantly elevate a cheese platter.