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7 Yummy Make-Ahead Dishes That Let You Party, Too

party food

When I first started hosting parties, I made one big mistake: I did loads of cooking in the kitchen and hardly any visiting. No fun! I've since learned that the best way to host is to make all of the food ahead of time. Then set everything out at once and enjoy with all your guests.

tray of meats and cheeses

So here's a fun party menu with recipes that will let you party along with your guests. Use all or just some of the recipes, depending on how many people you're expecting.

What's your favorite party food?


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1Charcuterie & Cheese Board

A charcuterie board is an easy way to serve food at a party. You can pick up these ingredients at your grocery deli or at a specialty store. Use a wooden cutting board or a platter and spread out the following:

2-3 varieties of sliced ham or salami

2-3 cheeses (wedge of creamy cheese, cubes of medium cheese, dish of mini mozzarella balls in olive oil)

1-2 bunches of grapes

Dish of cured olives

Dish of olive oil

2-3 baguettes, sliced

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2Grilled Cheese on a Stick

You can probably tell how to make these just by looking at them. Butter the outsides of your sandwich bread and place your cheese between the slices. Place three skewers, evenly spaced, inside each sandwich before grilling.

If you're making several, try baking your sandwiches in a 350-degree oven for 3-5 minutes on each side.

Then cut into individual slices on a stick and serve on a platter.

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3Mini Meatballs

You can freeze raw mini meatballs if you're planning way, way ahead of time. Bake these Bite-Sized Baked Meatballs from How Sweet It Is in a tomato sauce and then serve them with the sauce for the party. Spear each one with a toothpick.

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4Spanish Egg & Potato Bites

Spanish Tortilla, like this recipe from Bon Apptetit, makes a great party dish. After baking the eggs with onion and potato, cut into bite-sized pieces. Serve room temperature.

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Oh you know -- a veggie platter! For a pretty twist on the usual, cut everything lengthwise and arrange in cups. This makes the veggies easier for dipping! And try adding raw zucchini, asparagas spears, and parboiled green beans. Serve with this Lemon Parmesan Dip recipe from Saveur.

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6Bacon-Wrapped Dates

I'll admit, these will probably appeal more to the grownups than the kids, but that's just fine. More for you! If you've never tried these Bacon-Wrapped Dates from Our Savory Life before, you're in for a sweet and savory surprise.

For a yummy twist on this recipe, try filling each date with a skinned almond.


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7S'Mores Dip

This insanely yummy S'Mores Dip via Hungry Brownie could not be easier to prepare ahead of time. All you need to do is load up a cast iron pan or baking dish with chocolate chips and marshmallows. Bake just before you're ready to serve dessert. Then put out a few baskets of graham crackers and let everyone gather around to dig in!

You may want to double this recipe depending on how many people you expect.

kid-friendly parties party food recipes

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