How to: Throw the Perfect Cocktail and Appetizer Party

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I recently had a ladies night which had a fall theme and it was awesome! Over the past couple of years I’ve loved hosting tailgate brunches, St. Patty’s Day dinners or brunch, and Thanksgiving dinner. From all of these I’ve come up with the fool proof way to through the best party. Here is how you do it….

Step 1- Think of theme and menu

Think of a theme so you can decorate and create a meal around it. I picked just general fall so I wouldn’t have to get a lot of decorations but just a few items to jazz up the apartment. I got a few tiny pumpkins for decoration and orange flowers. I also picked fun Halloween straws and brown stripped plates.

When planning the menu always think less is more. After a week of searching different sites I decided to serve bahn mi meatballs, crostinis three different ways, and pumpkin doughnut holes. When picking recipes think about what needs to be cooked in the oven and your time frame. Also think of recipes that you could do most of the prep before hand.

I was originally planning on doing three savory apps and then one sweet but scaled it down to two because I knew people would bring stuff even if I said they didn’t have to. This was a great decision because there was plenty of food and I didn’t kill myself. For the cocktail I picked an apple cider old fashioned. Once again here I almost changed my plan because I found a cool recipe that added ginger beer and I thought it looked cooler with cranberries on toothpicks. In the end I went with what was budget friendly and didn’t make me have to get extra “stuff.” The orange and apple slices I had planned were just “fun” in the drinks.

This was my first party I really tried to focus on this and I will never go back to my old ways. I saved a few extra dollars and nobody else knew about the other cocktail with ginger beer or the other appetizer I was thinking about—they just saw the festive fun stuff in front of them.

Step 2-Prepare with a list

This seems like an easy step but I think it is one that is frequently missed. What I mean by “prepare with a list” is the week prior to your party break down each day and what needs to be done. A grocery store day, a cleaning day, a prep night. If you break it down this way it helps you see how easily you can maintain your normal week like and prep for a party. It helps keep the stress down from the get go. Take a look at my list and you’ll see how I do it.

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Step 3- Prep night/morning

The night before the event, once the place is clean, put stuff out how you would for the party. I set up the bar and set up the table with the platters I would be using and the only things missing were food and ice. This way everything is set so you don’t have to worry about grabbing dishes and cleaning them or what to put where.

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Step 5- Stay calm and cook/bake on

This is the key point; stay calm. I found it hard because I got out of work a little later than planned so I was behind schedule but when time came for the people to arrive at 7 pm they helped out with the final dishes being cooked. I was frazzled because my goal was to have everything done before people arrived which now that I look back and realize what I was trying to get done in an hour was not realistic. So set realistic goals so you aren’t stressed. It is very normal to be cooking while people are arriving so build that in if need. I also found that it was great to give someone bar duty so that kept people busy while I was finishing things up in the kitchen. I gave this duty to my sister Kara and it was easy for her take on because I printed out the recipe and directions so there were no questions. Also no matter how your dishes turn out remember what Julia Child said, “No Matter what happens in the kitchen never apologize.” So present your dishes proudly and enjoy a drink you deserve it!

The Perfect Fall Party Menu (Serves about 12 if others bring some things like cheese and wine)

Looking to have a party but don’t know what to make? I have you covered. This is the perfect menu for a 20 something’s fall party.

Apple Cider Old-Fashioned Cocktail

Banh Mi Bites

Crostini’s A la carte

For the crostini’s I cut two french baguettes into a two inch slices. I drizzled olive oil on each side and baked at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or golden brown. I topped each with a dollop of ricotta before adding the toppings below:

  1. Butternut squash and sage- I peeled and chopped butternut squash into cubes and coated with olive oil and salt and pepper. I roasted that for about 30 minutes or soft to a fork and then let cool. I did this the night before so the corseting was served at room temperature. I topped each with chopped sage.
  2. Roasted tomatoes- I drizzled olive oil and salt and pepper on cherry sized heirloom tomatoes and roasted them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.
  3. Pear, prosciutto and honey- I sliced pear and added pieces of prosciutto then topped with a drizzle of honey.

Pumpkin Doughnut Holes

Cream cheese dipping sauce

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