Hosting a holiday dinner party can be stressful but having some flawless appetizer recipes can help! From finger foods to baked brie, to gourmet hors d’oevres, your holiday party can be thrown together without a hitch! Read more for 18+ Easy and Gourmet Holiday Party Appetizers.
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I have done a lot of dinner parties! A lot. I guess it comes with the territory of being a chef and being contracted to doing more holiday parties than anyone can imagine.
However, I also personally love throwing dinner parties at my own home! It’s kind of a way for me to show off to my friends all of the cool and yummy stuff I can do. But I understand how the holidays can be a bit overwhelming! Especially if you’ve been put up to throwing a holiday party, or even better, asked to bring an appetizer TO a holiday party.
I have a couple of tricks to help you navigate through the world of holiday party appetizers to make sure everyone is happy!
What is the Difference Between an Appetizer and an Hor d’oevres
Before I dive into the juicy details of holiday parties and appetizers, I thought it would be important to talk, first about the difference in terms when it comes to appetizers and hor d’oevres.
Besides hor ‘doevres being a pain to pronounce, and even worse to spell, the main difference between these two terms is the size in which the recipe can be eaten. Appetizers and hor d’oevres both apply to recipes that can be eaten in one or two bites, mainly finger foods. The only thing that separates appetizers from hor d’oevres is that appetizers can also be served at the first course of a meal (think salads and such).
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get cracking on holiday party appetizer planning!
How Many Appetizers Should I Have for A Party of XYZ
I honestly think that one of the most stressful parts of party planning is knowing how many guests I could potentially have… unless I just invite two other couples over to the house, that’s easy peasy.
A good rule of thumb that I like to go with is to offer about four different appetizers. I also make them different enough that everyone feels like they have a good few choices.
For example, I always have a veggie-based appetizer (like my Stuffed Mini Peppers), a meat-based appetizer (like my Turkey Meatballs with Pomegranate Sauce), a gluten-free appetizer (like my Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms), and a possible cheese board or something of the like (my Baked Brie with Fig and Cherry Jam is also a crowd pleaser). That way there’s plenty of options.
When it comes to making sure that everyone has enough to eat, I bank on people having anywhere from 3-4 pieces of each appetizer. If you have some big eaters, or if you are having an appetizer-only holiday party, I would highly suggest having something like a baked brie or a cheese ball to help offset how many little hor d’oerves you would need to make.
Here are some great recipes that will help stretch your appetizers a bit without too much work.
How to Build a Charcuterie Board Perfect for Date Night- I Just Make Sandwiches (also perfect for holiday parties too!)
What Are Good Holiday Party Appetizers for Thanksgiving
Now since, in the US at least, the holiday season consists of Thanksgiving AND Christmas, I thought it was only appropriate to talk about both and separate out what would be best for each occasion.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, I love thinking about foods that come into season in the fall (you need to read this post all about seasonal foods if you haven’t yet already!) So what comes into season in the fall? Winter squash, gourds, cranberries, apples, and pomegranates.
I think appetizers for a Thanksgiving dinner or Thanksgiving-themed party are fun when they mimic part of a Thanksgiving meal.
Pork Cranberry and Goat Cheese Sausage Rolls from The Home Cooks Kitchen reminds me a lot of the flavors of Thanksgiving and are a perfect finger food!
Roasted Acorn Squash Crostini with Crispy Proscuitto and Goat Cheese from Girl Heart Food is a great homage to fall without the cliché pumpkin.
My Turkey Meatballs with Pomegranate Sauce are perfect for a Thanksgiving dinner. A robust and pungent pomegranate sauce is perfect for these moist turkey meatballs.
Mini Baked Potatoes with Sour Cream and Smoked Salmon from Sprinkles and Sprouts are a perfect one bite wonder of a potato appetizer! And the smoked salmon really makes these a fancy hor d’oevre. Smoked salmon is often found in the seafood section of your local grocery store, but you can also feel free to buy through this link (affiliate).
Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms are a play on an easy appetizer I had to do at a restaurant I worked. An updated spin on the classic stuffed mushroom is a gluten-free friendly option!
Savory Bacon and Cranberry Cheese Tartlets from Beauty and the Foodie are a perfect, fancy, Thanksgiving appetizer that is sure to wow!
What Appetizers to Have at a Christmas Party
To me, Christmas party appetizers seem to be a bit more elevated and stylish. Thanksgiving parties and dinners seem to bring family and close friends together; Christmas parties are usually a more outlandish affair.
Don’t get me wrong though, fancy doesn’t have to mean overly complicated. Just think a little outside of the box with fancier seeming ingredients and a more elevated presentation.
Salmon and Caviar Appetizer from Slow the Cook Down is the perfect example of a fancy appetizer perfect for impressing guests at a Christmas party. To find caviar near you, I would go to a gourmet food store or use this link (affiliate) to buy it
While cranberries are technically a Thanksgiving food, these Sugared Cranberries from The PKP Way give me the Christmas feels and are a perfect appetizer stretcher!
Cured Brown Sugar Salmon Skewers from Sprinkles and Sprouts are the epitome of a fancy appetizer that is all no fuss, no muss!
Stuffed Mini Peppers have the look of old-fashioned Christmas lights! Stuffed with cream cheese and all kinds of goodies, these are a perfect vegetable appetizer.
Even though blueberries are a summer fruit, these Roasted Blueberry and Whipped Goat Cheese Crostinis from Girl Heart Food are too good not to have as a Christmas dinner party appetizer.
If you wanted to have a more casual but still festive Christmas dinner party, this Holiday Goat Cheese Flatbread with Honey Balsamic Cranberries from Seasoned Sprinkles will have your guests wanting more and more… so be on the safe side and make a few!
What Items do I Need to Throw a Holiday Party
When I think of appetizers, there are only a few things that are a MUST HAVE when serving appetizers. Here are what you’ll need.
Serving platters (affiliate). Get them in a few different sizes because each appetizer is going to fit and look differently on each platter. I also personally like serving things on cake plates just to elevate the table a bit and give the eye some different heights to look at.
Serving utensils (affiliate). For baked brie, be sure to have a knife for people to spread the cheese onto their fruit and crackers. You won’t really want the cheese to get studded with broken pieces of crackers and fruit.
Toothpicks (affiliate). Now I like to go with fancy toothpicks, like these bamboo ones because they look really cool but they come in super handy with picking things up, like meatballs and such.
Lots of napkins and small plates! Especially if you have lots of people at your house, things will get messy quick. So just make sure that there are plenty of napkins for people to grab and plates for when they forget which one is theirs!
I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season and try out some of these gorgeous recipes!
If you happen to need ideas of stellar, gourmet and unique side dishes for the holidays, be sure to check out this post.