Holiday Entertaining

How to Serve Hors d’Oeuvres

Seven expert tips to kick-start your party.

By Lygeia Grace
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Linnea Johansson, an event planner and the author of Perfect Parties ($20, amazon.com), and Mary Cleaver, an eco-friendly New York City caterer, serve up this advice for your next gathering.

  • Offer three to four types of hors d’oeuvres, and figure each person will eat about 10 pieces in two hours (fewer if you’re serving cheese as well).
  • To keep the food flowing, prebake the hors d’oeuvres, then rewarm them when the guests arrive.
  • Use the oven for the crispiest results. Even if the heating instructions offer the option of microwaving pastry hors d’oeuvres, don’t do it.
  • Skip the full bar and prepare one or two drinks―like mojitos and old-fashioned sidecars―in bulk ahead of time. Before the party, pour them into glasses on trays and place pitchers next to them, so guests can refill themselves.
  • Put out cold foods, like vegetables and dip or a platter of cheeses, at the start of the party so people have something to nibble on if the hot hors d’oeuvres aren’t ready.
  • Even if you’re lucky enough to have a friend helping out, serve the hot hors d’oeuvres yourself. It will allow you to mingle with your guests. Ask your friend to focus on keeping the cold-food tray full and clearing plates.
  • If you’re on your own for the party, focus on serving hors d’oeuvres that have melted cheese or crispy breading, such as taquitos, soufflés, and breaded shrimp, when they’re piping hot. Vegetable snacks, like spanakopita, samosas, and spring rolls, are fine when served at room temperature.
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Parmesan

If you don’t have a Parmesan rind on hand, try stirring in ¼ cup grated Parmesan just before serving.