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The DIY party food bar: Tasty for your guests, easy hosting for you


SheKnows Editorial

What if you threw a party where you forced your guests to make their own food — and they liked it? That’s the genius behind the DIY food bar. We’re talking sundaes everyone can top their way or tacos everyone can customize themselves.

Food bars are a fun way to make sure each guest winds up eating something they like at your party. You can include as many or as few add-ons and toppings as your budget allows, and guests will be able to customize every bite of food they take at your party.

Keep warm ingredients in a slow cooker or chafing dish and you won’t even have to worry about heating and reheating food as the party goes on. That means you’re free to enjoy your party (and a glass or two of vino) along with your guests.

More: Blinis are your new favorite party food everyone loves you for making

From spicy chili to luxurious cheesecake, here are some DIY food bar ideas for your next soiree.

1. Nacho bar

Base: Warm tortilla chips

Add-on ideas: Diced chicken, diced steak, grilled shrimp, diced tomato, diced avocado, sour cream, salsa, pickled jalapenos, chopped cilantro, hot sauce, diced onions, seasoned ground beef, crumbled queso fresco, guacamole, nacho cheese sauce

2. Snack mix bar

Base: A selection of cereals, crackers, chips, bagel chips, pretzels

Add-on ideas: M&M’s, Reese’s Pieces, dried fruit, melted butter, different seasoning blends, dried herbs, salt and pepper

3. Taco bar

Base: Meat taco filling, bean taco filling

Add-on ideas: Corn tortillas, flour tortillas, crispy taco shells, Boston lettuce for lettuce cup tacos, shredded lettuce, diced tomato, diced onion, cilantro, a variety of salsas, crumbled queso fresco, shredded cheese, refried beans, black beans, avocado, sour cream, hot sauces, sliced jalapenos, pickled jalapenos and carrots, sliced radishes

4. Chili bar

Base: Meat chili, vegetarian chili, white chili

Add-on ideas: Diced avocado, different salsas, sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped scallions or chopped onions, tortilla chips, hot sauce, lime wedges, diced tomatoes, sliced jalapenos, chopped cilantro

5. Cocoa bar

Base: Slow-cooker hot cocoa

Add-on ideas: Whipped cream, dark chocolate shavings, caramel sauce, hot fudge sauce, instant coffee granules, flavored syrups, booze (brandy, peppermint schnapps, butterscotch schnapps), Nutella

6. Ice cream sundae bar

Base: A selection of different ice creams and sorbets

Add-on ideas: Caramel sauce, hot fudge sauce, whipped cream, sprinkles, chopped candy bars, maraschino cherries, crushed cookies, nuts, shredded coconut, cubes of cake, ice cream cones, fresh fruit, marshmallow topping

7. Cookie decorating bar

Base: Sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies

Add-on ideas: Different colors of frosting, sprinkles, edible glitter, piping bags and a variety of tips

More: 14 hot and fiery ways to spice up your meals that aren’t Sriracha

8. Soup bar

Base: A broth-based soup and a creamy soup

Add-on ideas: Oyster crackers, rolls, bread, sour cream, hot sauce, cooked noodles, chopped fresh herbs (parsley, dill, basil, chives), diced chicken, avocado, shredded cheddar, shredded parmesan, grilled shrimp, crumbled bacon, homemade croutons

9. Baked potato bar

Base: Baked white and sweet potatoes, split open

Add-on ideas: Sour cream, chili, shredded cheese, salsa, chopped scallions, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, pepper, chopped parsley, minced chives, diced chicken, crumbled bacon, roasted or steamed broccoli, sliced black olives, cilantro, nacho cheese sauce

10. Cheesecake bar

Base: Slices of plain cheesecake or mini cheesecakes

Add-on ideas: Macerated fruit, jams, canned pie filling, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, chocolate chips, toffee bits, whipped cream, sprinkles, crushed cookies, nuts, cinnamon-sugar, chopped candy bars, marshmallows, shredded coconut

More: Food Porn Friday: 21 amazing reasons everyone loves cheese sauce

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