Whether you're hosting a dinner party, a small pre-bar-hopping cocktail hour or even ordering in some take out for a lazy sunday with friends, there's a simple secret to making the most of the day: Have a snack on the table as soon as the first guest arrives.
It doesn't have to be anything elaborate—even just a small bowl of chips or nuts will get the job done. That job, of course, is making sure that your guests have something to snack on if they've arrived hungry, or maybe just want something to reach for in between lulls in conversation.
To get you started, we asked a panel of party people to reveal their go-to party snacks. Because when you get the small bites just right, you're setting the stage for a night of world-class entertaining. Your guests will leave with big smiles, full bellies, and probably your email address so they can nag you for the recipe later.
And psst... Want to learn more about our experts? Check out their "table cred" right here: Meet the Entertaining Experts
"Deviled eggs. Easy, affordable, and always gone in a flash!"
— Roxy Te, Society Social
"Deviled Crab Eggs. I am from the lowcountry and there is nothing better than adding crab to a classic southern dish. Plus they are easy to carry around to encourage your guests to mingle."
— Michiel Perry, Black Southern Belle
"Gravlax on cream cheese and toast points with a squeeze of lemon and garden-fresh dill."
— Chantal Aida Gordon, The Horticult
"Gougeres or guacamole. Gougeres are French cheese puffs, and always the first to go. They're addicting! I love them because if you keep a hard cheese on hand (like Manchego or Gruyere) along with a few basics like milk, eggs, and flour, you can whip them up anytime. For guacamole, my favorite version contains a bit of chile, garlic, shallots, lemon or lime, and pistachios blended in a food processor. I'll use jalapeno, lime, and cilantro to keep it more traditional or I'll go with lemon, red chile flake, and basil to mix it up. I garnish at the end with a good olive oil, chopped pistachios, and flaky sea salt. Great with crudité and pita chips or tortilla chips."
— Sarah Ashley Schiear, Salt House Market
"I've never met a guest who didn't love my mango-chipotle guacamole."
— Camille Styles, CamilleStyles.com
"My go-to appetizer dish is actually a recipe I 'stole' from my mother-in-law! I sprinkle feta cheese in a shallow serving tray, add sliced cherry tomatoes and drizzle with a great olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Maldon salt, and fresh ground pepper. I'll add fresh herbs if I've planned ahead or have some extra in the fridge. Serve with a sliced baguette or seasoned crackers."
— Kate Arends, Wit & Delight
"I do a white chocolate, matcha microwave popcorn. It's literally a brown paper bag and popcorn kernels that I microwave until the kernels are popped and then I toss green matcha and white chocolate inside. It's so good!"
— Danny Seo, Naturally, Danny Seo
"I like making a nice charcuterie spread with options for everyone."
— Lauren Conrad, The Little Market
"You can never go wrong with a great cheese and charcuterie plate. And for the holidays, I always pull out the classic shrimp cocktail with homemade cocktail sauce, of course."
— Mandy Kellogg Rye, Waiting on Martha
"Bruschetta is always a go-to of mine when I need an easy bite sized item for tiding guests over."
— Ashley Rose, Sugar & Cloth
"Crackers served with baked brie that has apricot preserves melted on top. BIG HIT. Also my rustic sandwich boards—make your own, with fresh baked bread and lots of different condiments to sample."
— Holly Becker, Decor8
"I love whipping up Mollie Katzen's recipe for pineapple salsa. It's basically a can of pineapple, some spices, fresh mint and lime juice mixed with an immersion blender. It literally takes minutes, tastes amazing with a bag of tortilla chips and everyone always asks me for the recipe. Plus I keep most of the ingredients on hand so I can throw it together without a lot of thought."
— Jordan Ferney, Oh Happy Day!
"Little anything. I love bite-sized food for parties because they are easy to eat, easy to clean up, and just so fun. Mini pancakes, mini donuts, mini pizzas—just make it small and make a lot of them."
— Joy Cho, Oh Joy!