5 Make-Ahead Appetizers With Holiday Flair

goat cheese candy cane'Tis the season to be jolly, right? Well, not if you're trying to cook the family holiday meal while the kids are zooming around the house with their new toys and hungry cousins are looming over the counter staring at you with evil eyes. I think we all tend to lean towards serving the foods that we can make the day before, both for time- and sanity-saving purposes, so here are five appetizer ideas that allow you to do just that. Not to mention, they're super festive, so they'll even look like you spent a ton of time and energy on them. Ssshh, we won't tell.


Candy Cane Cheese Spread

Even if you don't have a sweet tooth, you will still love this candy cane cheese spread. Beat 2 packages (8 oz. each) of cream cheese and 1/2 stick of softened butter in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons of chives, 2 tablespoons of parsley flakes, 1 teaspoon garlic pepper with red bell and black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of dill weed, and 1/4 teaspoon of thyme. Beat well. Spoon cheese mixture onto plastic wrap and form into candy cane shape, then fold plastic wrap over and refrigerate at least four hours. At time of the party, garnish with chopped red peppers and serve with assorted crackers.

Veggie Tree

Oh veggie tree, oh veggie tree, how tasty are your branches. For this super simple yet highly decorative appetizer, wrap a styrofoam cone in green paper, then simply stick your favorite red and green vegetables -- broccoli, cherry tomatoes, red and green peppers -- in with toothpicks.

veggie tree

Pea Pesto Crostini

The festive red and green app is also very healthy. In a food processor, mix a 10-oz. package of frozen peas, 1 garlic clove, 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. While it's mixing, slowly add 1/3 cup of olive oil until well blended. Transfer to bowl and set aside or in refrigerator until next day.

Preheat a stovetop griddle or grill pan on medium-high heat. Brush both sides of the sliced bread (ciabatta or baguette) with olive oil and grill until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the bread to a clean surface and spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the prepared pesto on each slice. Top with tomato halves.

Appetizer Wreath

Almost too pretty too eat, this appetizer wreath is similar to a cheese spread but is held on crescent rolls and topped with green and red veggies for a decorative look.

appetizer wreath

Mozzarella/Tomato/Basil Skewers

Just stab mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes, and basil together on a skewer and you instantly have a decorative app that even Martha Stewart would approve. If you really want to show of your skills, wrap some tinsel around the ends.

Are you making appetizers for the holidays?

Images via McCormick.com, Kari Gignac, ChristmasNotebook.com, D'Arcy Norman/Flickr

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