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  • Writer's pictureDevon Cookery School

What should I make for a Christmas party? Three tantalising party recipes ready to delight everyone.

When do you start preparing for a party? Do you have everything ready three months in advance, from guest lists to food timings, or do you dash around Sainsbury’s the day of your event trying to remember whether it was flaky pastry or puff pastry that you need?

I always try to be prepared at least a week in advance, and to make anything I can ahead of time. Sometimes though, whether because of work, family commitments or delightful distractions, party prep can be left to the last minute.

I’ve chosen three of my favourite party nibble recipes to share with you below. These are perfect whether you’re prepared or in a pinch. They’re easy to get together but impressive to eat - packing a taste bomb that will have your guests thinking you were busy in the kitchen for hours. Whether you’re hosting an informal get together or cocktail party, a buffet drinks evening, or just want snacks while you’re opening presents, these appetisers are perfect.

But what makes a good nibble? Of course taste is at the top of our criteria, but what about ease of making, availability of ingredients, first impressions, preparation times and longevity of snack? After all, there’s nothing nicer than GOOD leftover party food when all the guests have gone and you’re finally putting your feet up, but you don’t want to tuck into floppy pizza and soggy mini flans.

The beauty of the three recipes here is that they can all be made in advance and left at room temperature (if made on the day), saving fridge space. Whilst you can make these fresh right before your soiree and serve them hot out of the oven, you can also reheat them in the oven before serving to crisp them up, or serve them at room temperature. That means these finger foods are perfect whether you’re prepared or a bit panicked!

All the ingredients are available in your local supermarket - and you probably have most of them in your cupboards already. And whilst they don’t take hours to make, they do serve up flavours that will have everyone reaching for more - so make extra!

But exactly how many hors d’oeuvres should you serve for each person? Hors d’oeuvres, by the way, literally means ‘outside the work’ in French, but has come to mean a small dish (or dishes) ‘outside the main meal’ that can be served on their own or to support the main meal. Now, back to the question - how many nibbles you serve per guest is flexible and depends on a few factors:

  • How long is your party? The longer your party, the more snacks per head you may want.

  • Are you also serving dinner? If you are serving a meal, you may want fewer nibbles per person - unless dinner is served two or more hours after hors d’oeuvres.

  • Will there be no alcohol, some or a lot? The more alcohol is served, the more snacks there should be to help soak it up.

  • What time is your party? If your party is over a meal time - for example an early evening when people might otherwise be having dinner, you may want more nibbles.

  • Do you know the appetites of your guests? You might know they’ve travelled a way to join you and will be hungrier, or that they’re not a very nibbly bunch and will eat less.

So how do you translate this into cold hard numbers? Something like this:

If you’re serving a meal

30 minutes to the meal - 3-4 nibbles each

1 hour to the meal - 5-6 nibbles each

1.5 hours to the meal - 8 nibbles each

2+ hours to the meal - 10 nibbles each

If there’s no meal

4-6 bites an hour (so if your party is 2 hours, up to 8-12 bites each)

Now let’s get down to the good stuff and get out these recipes! And don’t forget, you can join us to make these recipes and more on our cookery classes.

Mini Mushroom Tarts

With a 45 minute total preparation and cooking time, these delicious pastries are quick to whip up and go down just as fast. Play around with the type of cheese you use for this recipe to create bespoke versions - we love stilton but cheddar is delicious too, or you could mix it up with a Mexican cheese or something else altogether.

Cheese sables

These savoury cheese biscuits keep very nicely, so they are excellent boxed up with a ribbon on for a Christmas gift. You can even use cookie cutters to make festive shapes worth gifting. They go beautifully with a red wine at a drinks reception, or you can crumble them onto soup as delicious improvised croutons.

Sausage rolls

I think most people have eaten a basic supermarket frozen sausage roll - the type that comes by dozens in a bag. Sometimes we might even go all out and get some that come in a box and cost a little bit more. They’re strangely more-ish and always go down a storm at parties. But if you’ve ever been to a farmers’ market and had a proper sausage roll, you’ll know there’s absolutely no comparison. The flavour complexity of a hand made sausage roll means it is savoured, not inhaled. That’s what you’ll get with this incredible homemade sausage roll recipe. They look beautiful, they’re substantial, and they’ll definitely all be eaten.


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