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How to make a great appetizer menu

Elaina is a Phoenix-based freelance writer, blogger and co-founder of the Kidlee baby book app. Check out her blog, Fun Finds For Mom, for product reviews, recipes and fun activities for moms and kids.

Hot n’ cold

It's almost party time! Need a little help deciding which appetizers to serve? Here are a few tips to help you create an appetizer menu with a little something for everyone -- from hungry carnivores to hard-core vegans.

Hot n’ cold

Mix it up

Remember to offer a variety of appetizers with different flavors, colors, textures and temperatures. A good rule of thumb is to serve an appetizer from each of these categories: cheese or antipasti plate, dips and spreads, cold finger foods and hot bites. By including a range of choices, you'll be sure to offer something appealing for all of your guests.

10 quick party appetizers >>

Get inspired

Take advantage of the many online resources to find appetizing inspiration. Turn to Pinterest, or your favorite food blogs, and do a quick search to reveal the amazing creativity in the delicious world of appetizers. Find one or two inspirational ideas, and use them as a jumping off point. While you do want to offer variety, flavors should complement each other.

Choose a theme

Having a theme for your party will provide direction to the menu, as well as the music, decor and even party attire. A Mexican fiesta calls for margaritas and spicy bites. Retro holiday parties might lead you to re-imagine classic appetizers like deviled eggs and cheese balls, to mix up some ice-cold martinis and download your favorite Frank Sinatra tunes.

Retro Hors d'oeuvres >>


The right presentation can elevate even the simplest appetizer. Mini serving vessels not only have a great visual impact, they also make it easy for guests to take and eat a single portion. Use plastic shot glasses to serve soup topped with a tiny sandwich triangle, or veggies standing upright in dip. If utensils are needed, add a mini bamboo spoon or fork to each serving. Wooden or bamboo skewers are also a fun way to serve up appetizers like caprese on a stick, using half a cherry tomato (flat side down), topped with a folded piece of basil and a cube of fresh mozzarella.

Go vegan

There's a good chance you'll have at least one vegetarian or gluten-free eater at your party. Choose from the many healthy and delicious options, and serve some vegan and gluten-free munchies. Use the link below to find recipes, including gluten-free baked brie, fig and rosemary and gluten-free lentil bruschetta.

Gluten free holiday appetizers >>

Watch: How to make bruschetta with figs and prosciutto

Want to make a fresh appetizer with the flavors of Italy? Try bruschetta with figs and prosciutto!

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