There's something to be said for tradition--place settings around a table, fork on the left, spoon on the right. But sometimes the classic "pass-the-peas"-style dinner needs a little shaking up. Why not lay out a spread of tasty, supper-inspired hors d'oeuvres and let your guests nosh the night away? It's all the satisfaction of a five-course meal without the stress of preparing it! The best part: No one will feel bad about going back for seconds (and thirds, and fourths!).
tips + how-tos
QUICK PARTY TIPS
Small Talk: 5 Ways to Get Your Guests Mingling
Give a style tip. Mention how formally (or informally) you'll be dressing, so invitees can follow suit. Most people feel at ease when they fit in with the rest of the room.
Show some enthusiasm. The name exchange won't give strangers much to work with. Tip them off to something they might have in common, too.
Pump up the jams. If you notice guests bopping to the music, try turning the volume up ever so slightly. It will often inspire them to break into full dance.
Say something, well, interesting. Have one or two conversation starters in mind in case there's a lull. Coming up short? Use your surroundings for inspiration.
Be a name-dropper. Make nametags that do double duty as drink markers: Write guests' names on paper and secure to glasses with string or double-sided tape.
Small on Time? If you have...
1 DAY Do all your chopping in advance. Refrigerate chopped foods in plastic baggies and containers until you're ready to cook.
1 HOUR Pile party dishware, glasses, napkins and utensils on a small table. You won't have to scramble for them once the party starts.
1 MINUTE Narrow the drink choices: Set out multiple bottles of wine and pop a few open before guests arrive.
Small on Funds?
No need to buy fancy serving platters. Instead, use these everyday items to serve and carry food:
- Cutting boards
- Cookie sheets or baking pans
- Checker, chess or backgammon boards
- Silver vanity trays or small mirrors
- Your office inbox, lined with parchment paper
Small on Space?
Take your apps vertical. Pile cake stands on top of one another or use a tiered serving stand.
Give the illusion of more room. Cluster chairs, benches and ottomans around the room so guests are less likely to congregate in one area.
Divide each appetizer among various serving pieces so partygoers can try them all from wherever they're seated.