No cocktail party is complete without some tasty nibbles to complement the drinks and keep hunger pangs at bay. Whether you are having a formal social gathering or just a few friends over for drinks in the garden, you will want to prepare some tempting snacks that your guests can graze on. Here are a few ideas.
Set aside a suitable flat surface
Ideally you want to serve a selection of finger foods that your guests can help themselves to, rather than have to continually walk around with trays and be in and out of the kitchen to make sure everyone has enough to eat. This allows you more time to spend socialising with your guests rather than be on hosting duty.
Set aside a flat surface such as a kitchen counter, table, or even a wooden board. Avoid buffet -style foods that need to be kept warm or chilled and eaten with a knife and fork. The aim is to set up a platter that guests can easily dip in and out of—sometimes called a grazing table. This gives everyone plenty of choice and caters for all tastes.
Aim for a good balance of ingredients
A successful grazing table includes both sweet and savoury flavours, and also looks visually appealing with a good range of colours and textures. Fresh fruit and vegetables are excellent ways to add pops of colour, so aim to include some chopped strawberries, plum tomatoes, grapes, kiwi fruit, cucumber slices, melon, or similar colourful produce that is in season.
Good savoury items to include are cheeses, crackers, nuts, dips and breadsticks, and miniature sandwiches. You may want to have a selection of sliced meats such as salami, prosciutto, and chorizo, together with some sliced baguettes to eat them with. Ideally, source local produce rather than buy the ingredients from a supermarket.
For some sweet treats, select a range of colourful cupcakes and mini tartlets or pastries.
Present the food thoughtfully
An attractively laid out table will really help to set the mood and encourage everyone to get stuck in. Make sure that the surface is large enough for everyone to access it easily and avoid crowding.
When displaying the food, aim to create some contrast between heights to make it look more appealing and to show off all your hard work. Use tiered stands or simply biscuit tins or baskets to place foods at different levels.
Use a mixture of neutral coloured serving trays, platters, bowls, and boards, so that you don’t have any patterns or colours detracting from the food. Aim for everything to flow together with a good balance of height, colour, and texture.
Finally, add some finishing touches, such as a scattering of freshly chopped herbs and some fresh flowers to tie it all together. Now all you have to do is get to work mixing those cocktails to enjoy with the snacks.
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