Food is one of the most important aspects of a party. Heavy meat and vegetarian appetizers provide a satisfying and tasty substitute for a full meal, minimizing the amount of effort you must devote toward preparing the food. Many heavy appetizers also lend themselves to advance preparation, leaving you free to enjoy the company of your guests.
Match your selection of appetizers to the mood of your party and the weather. Offer your guests both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks to accompany the food, and provide fruit juice and milk for the kids. Even with hearty appetizers, keep the servings small enough so that guests can eat them without making a mess.
Consider your guests' dietary needs or preferences. Prepare poultry or fish selections for guests who don't eat red meat, along with at least one vegetarian appetizer. If you want to serve fancier appetizers, be sure to have several kid-friendly options as well. Dress up your appetizers with sprigs of parsley or slices of cucumber.
Prepare a plate of sliced red, green and yellow peppers, whole cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, pea pods and celery stalks around a selection of dips. Crowd-pleasing choices include rich dill dip, creamy spinach dip, guacamole and ranch dip. Bruschetta topped with diced tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil is another delicious vegetarian appetizer that is easy to prepare. Offer your guests hearty zucchini or potato bread and a selection of spreads. For an indoor get-together during the holidays, prepare a quiche stuffed with veggies. Stir up a batch of vegetable fried rice to lend an Asian air to your appetizer offerings. If your party takes place outdoors, offer your guests grilled veggie kabobs. Make the kabobs more appealing to kids by providing a creamy dip.
Prepare meat, poultry and seafood appetizers outdoors -- just fire up the grill for kabobs made with chunks of beef, salmon or chicken. If your party is indoors, barbecued chicken wings are delicious and filling; prepare the chicken Korean style or glaze the chicken pieces with orange as an alternative. For the kids, have some juicy ranch-flavored chicken wings. A tempting platter of antipasto filled with salami, sausages, cauliflower and olives is easy to prepare and will please your guests. Seafood lovers will relish eating shrimp tossed with diced tomatoes and avocado and covered with citrus juice.
Gather your guests around a hearty chocolate fondue with thick slices of bread or strawberries for an elegant, yet kid-friendly, dessert. Roll a ball of sweet cheese over pecans and serve it with a plate of graham crackers or wafers. Stuff apricots with amaretto cheese or present your guests with a platter of sliced fruits and cheeses for a healthy alternative to sugary sweets.
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