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, soufflÃ©s, and breaded shrimp, when they’re piping hot. Vegetable snacks, like spanakopita, samosas, and spring rolls, are fine when served at room temperature.