5 Tips to Get Your Party Started

Use our crowd-pleasing apps and hostess tips to get your party started and keep it going through the night.

Tip #1: If you're serving small bites such as shrimp or scallops, skewer them with decorative toothpicks for easy handling and a charming presentation.
Thai Shrimp SkewersThai Shrimp Skewers
Thai Shrimp Skewers

1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 to 2 tsp. red curry paste
24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Whisk together coconut milk, coconut, fish sauce, and curry paste in a medium bowl. Add shrimp; toss well. Chill 1 hour.

Grill shrimp over medium-high heat 2 minutes on each side or until done. Place on individual bamboo picks to serve. Makes 2 dozen.

Related: 5-Ingredient (or fewer!) Appetizers

Tip #2: We eat with our eyes, so have fun with unconventional food shapes, presentations, and colors.

Tuna-Avocado CupsTuna-Avocado Cups
Tuna-Avocado Cups

24 won ton wrappers
1 small lime
1 avocado, cubed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 lb. sushi-grade tuna

Press won ton wrappers into nonstick mini-muffin cups, pleating each to form a small shell. Bake at 350° for 7 to 9 minutes or until golden brown. Remove cups with a small spatula; cool.

Combine zest and juice from lime in a medium bowl. Fold in avocado, cilantro, and tuna. Spoon into won ton cups, and serve immediately. Makes 2 dozen.

Related: 20 Spirited Party Cocktails

Tip #3: Try to choose items that can be made ahead of time for effortless entertaining.

Sweet and Spicy Asian NutsSweet and Spicy Asian Nuts
Sweet and Spicy Asian Nuts

1 Tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
2 tsp. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. wasabi powder, divided
1 cup roasted, unsalted almonds
1 cup oil-roasted, unsalted cashews
1 Tbsp. nori furikake rice seasoning or sesame seeds

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir in 1/2 tsp. wasabi powder. Add nuts; toss well to coat. Spread in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking pan.

Bake at 250° for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Combine remaining 1/2 tsp. wasabi powder and nori furikake in a small bowl. Remove nuts from oven; immediately sprinkle seasoning mixture over hot nuts. Let stand 2 hours or longer to cool and dry.

Related: Slurp-Worthy Soups & Stews

Tip #4: Keep the food clean and simple. Make sure food is bite-sized, doesn't require a knife and fork, and is easy to eat.
Curried Shrimp BallsCurried Shrimp Balls
Curried Shrimp Balls

1 cup flaked coconut
1 tsp. curry powder
2 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
12 oz. peeled and deveined shrimp, cooked
2 green onions, coarsely chopped

Combine coconut and curry powder on a baking sheet, and bake at 325° for 5 minutes or until golden. Set aside.

Process cream cheese, shrimp, and onions in a food processor until blended.

Shape shrimp mixture into 1-inch balls, and roll into coconut mixture. Cover and chill. Makes 4 dozen.

Related: 26 Favorite Shrimp Recipes

Tip #5: Include a variety of options in your party spread so dieters and vegetarians can indulge.

Tapenade TwistsTapenade Twists
Tapenade Twists

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/2 (17.3-oz. package frozen puff pastry, thawed)

Process first 4 ingredients until smooth.

Unfold pastry sheet onto a lightly floured surface, and press out fold lines. Roll into a 12- x 10-inch rectangle.

Spread olive mixture over lengthwise half of rectangle to within 1 inch of long ledge; fold pastry over filling. Roll gently with a rolling pin; pinch edges to seal. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips. Twist strips; place on a greased baking sheet.

Bake at 400° for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen.

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