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Suggestions for Cocktail Party Food

What's the your best suggestion for finger food for a december cocktail party with no budget?

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  1. No budget meaning you can spend anything or very little? And how many people? Are you preparing the food or having someone else do it?

    1. Without knowing specifics of the event it's difficult to give suggestions but here are a few links that might help:

      Everything from formal to 50's style menus: http://www.epicurious.com/recipesmenu...

      Or this link for an interesting looking "A Taste of Christmas" Menu from myrecipes.com: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/rec...

      Otherwise I'm pretty sure cocktail food on a budget has been discussed on the Home Cooking Board.


      1. Do wine/food pairing tables.

        Chinese chicken salad in to-go box individual servings

        Ahi tartar on sesame rice crisp.

        Yakitori skewers

        stuffed endive leaves

        caramelized figs w/ blue cheese

        caviar on rounds

        Fried macaroni and cheese (for down home goodness)

        Polenta rounds fried and topped with a dollop of eggplant tapenade or ratatouille

        An Olive bar

        Grilled fruit

        Stuffed Dates

        Stuffed Mushrooms or Tomatoes

        Petit Four sandies

        ...just a few ideas, and with more info, we can probably all help sculpt you in the right direction...

        2 Replies
          1. re: alkapal

            did the OP ever clarify no budget-- "sky's the limit" or "impress on a budget"??

        1. If you mean "no budget" to mean little cash then I can relate what I did for our Christmas open houses when our business was new and struggling. Chicken drumettes sauced and baked (not wings- they are too hard to eat), meatballs in any classic sweet and sour sauce (even use the small ones from the mega stores that are maybe 7 bucks for 150 balls), whole salamis thin sliced with a meat slicer and slices folded in half and half again and toothpicked, bunches of grapes if cheap and in season, bowls of nuts like peanuts and cashew- just shop judiciously at the megastores, bread and cheese- again using the best bargains and pre-slicing- don't let guests slice. Also there are relatively o.k. "eggrolls" (using term loosely), and taquito type things at the megastores. If you offer a good dipping sauce, anything tastes good. Good luck and report back

          8 Replies
          1. re: torty

            I'm doing a party on a budget next month and I also plan on having drumettes and meatballs! Maybe sweedish ones though. For the vegetarians I'm doing samosas using Goya empanada discos.

            1. re: Lixer

              The Goya empanada dough is really nasty! You'd be better off making your own dough if you have the time as it is still inexpensive to make.

              1. re: JungMann

                Hmmm..Thanks for the heads up. It was a time saver thing, but I don't want anything nasty at my party!

                1. re: Lixer

                  hey lixer, you could use puff pastries as the dough for the samosas. Thats what I had done to make samosas. You can refer to my blog for the recipe.

                  1. re: amishad

                    i would second that, or fillo pastry. keep it thin. (2-3 sheets)

                    1. re: amishad

                      An Indian deli I sometimes stop by makes their samosas with puff pastry and it just doesn't work for me. It's off-puttingly sweet with not enough textural contrast for a vegetable samosa. You need something more crunchy, almost like a ritz crust.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        jungmann, as you know, samosa dough is not sweet, so a puff pastry crust as substitute should not be sweet either. did they make their own puff pastry? weird for indians who could easily -- and more cheaply -- make samosa dough chose a puff pastry crust instead!

                        samosa dough is like pie dough -- well, an oil pastry crust. not crispy until deep fried. i think fillo (phyllo) is a great shortcut, but i had a lebanese friend who would make the spinach pies (baked cousin of samosa) with pillsbury rolls, rolled out as one sheet (or using the triangles already perforated on the dough for portion size). she did not brush with oil to bake, but i would to crisp it up! by the way, those little spinach pies - so easy -- were snapped up.

                        ps what is a "ritz" crust?

                        1. re: alkapal

                          The best samosas I have had used a ghee pastry crust, which I think especially important when making vegetarian samosas. Filo or spring roll wrappers are a great shortcut for meat samosas, and it's one my family uses, but I don't think it has the body to stand up to chunky potatoes and peas. But I suppose it can do in a pinch.

                          Ritz crust is Pillsbury's frozen butter pie crust. If Filo doesn't have enough body, Ritz probably has too much.

            2. Yeah see I assumed no money too if that is true:
              Trader Joes pot stickers
              Cheese plate with crackers or sliced baquette, maybe some olive tapenade, chutney and hummus (also you can do carrots for the hummus too), doesn't have to be really expensive cheese maybe do a brie, good cheddar, a blue or roquefort and like a gouda.
              christmas cookies I highly suggest Martha Stewart sugar cookiers with the white glaze
              meatballs awesome and extremely cheap to make and easy to make from scratch too
              perhaps like a pumpkin roll
              I will keep thinking...

              1. We are having a cocktail style party this Saturday to celebrate my daughters first birthday(the party is for her, but at one year old, it is more for the friends and family to celebrate her first year, future birthdays will be more kid themed). Mostly adults, and a couple of kids. We wanted "finger foods", or foods that the guests can stay mobile eating.

                We are not going to make any of the items(I get a day off from cooking), we are just going to pick them up at a local Italian Caterer. I may decide to make a large batch of guacamole if the avocados look good @ Costco tomorrow night.

                Our menu:

                - The Chicago iconic classic: Italian Beef Sandwiches( I get to use my slow cooker for the second time to hold the beef, and keep it warm)

                - A 3 foot American sub

                - 1/2 pan of garden salad

                - 1/2 pan of caeser salad

                - 1/2 pan of penne shells in alfredo sauce

                - a fruit tray

                - a cannoli tray

                - assorted cookies

                - and a sheet cake for the birthday girl( being an adventurous eater for a one year old, she will also eat the Italian Beef, and everything else on the menu)

                We will also be serving plenty of beer, tequila, and margaritas.

                good luck with your party

                1. I also am unclear if you mean there is no budget and the sky's the limit, or you have a budget of $0. Either way I have saved these threads over the past couple months to help me out for my annual holiday party. Making things yourself I find not only tastes better, but saves a lot of $. In which case do ahead items are important.

                  We're having a party next month and so far I think on the menu is...
                  - potato skins (so cheap to make, but pretty labor intensive, however I also use the inside of the potato for gnocchi in which case the double duty makes them worth it.
                  - Spinach and cheese on english muffins, so retro, but how can you go wrong with melted cheese and spinach? These are always the first thing to go.
                  - Crab cakes - A little bit of a splurge but much less so if you make them yourself.
                  - Chicken satay w/ peanut sauce
                  - vietnamese Summer rolls
                  - mini pulled pork sandwiches


                  4 Replies
                  1. re: SweetPea914

                    mini pulled pork sandwiches are a huge hit. I took them to a party and wow, I am going to do that again!

                    1. re: ktmoomau

                      We made them once before and everyone loved them here too!
                      We live in a Co-op, therefore not a lot of room for people to sit and eat, so we always try to do some hearty finger foods in case anyone didn't have time to have dinner.

                    2. re: SweetPea914

                      Damn. that's so much work. :) You're a workhorse to make all that!

                      Mini sliders (you can cut up regular texas toast bread and toast it till it's crunch)
                      Grilled marinated shrimp on a toothpick
                      Bruschetta on toasted mini bagette

                      1. re: baekster

                        I may re-evaluate and realize I'm nuts, we'll see! I like that pretty much everything can be done a day or 2 ahead of time and put in the fridge or freezer on a baking sheet. Then I just bake them in the oven when people arrive!

                    3. If this is a casual event I would also suggest Erma Bombeck Dip, it is a big hit at casual events I have.

                      Also mini-cheeseacakes are so easy to make if you use nilla wafers in the bottom of a cupcake paper cup, then cheese filing and then top with cherry pie filling

                      If you are going to make mini burgers or pork sandwiches I recommend the little Hawaiian King dinner rolls, they are the perfect sizr and a little sweet so really good for BBQ.

                      And I also always make pepperoni rolls they are a regional thing around Western Maryland/West Virginia that I have gotten people addicted to, you can normally google recipes for them. This is good and cheap for more casual too.