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Suggestions for low-budget holiday party food?

Our residential building will be hosting its first holiday party this year. Unfortunately, we seem to have a very low budget for party food. Any suggestions on crowd pleasing food while on a budget? We thought about asking residents to prepare food, but would rather look and see what we can come up with. Our objective is to provide something simple and tasty, not a meal.

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  1. Crostinis (or my bastardized version of them) are always easy to prepare (unless you don't have an oven) and fairly cheap. Slice up a baguette and top with whatever you like. For a quick appetizer, I make a quick bruschetta with tomatoes (usually Roma), garlic, basil, olive oil, and salt/pepper. Make sure everything's fresh and that goes well with toasted baguette slices.

    Also, look for things like pre-made tapanades, spreads, pesto, etc. If you're near a Trader Joe's, they have a good variety of things you can put on the toasts.

    2 Replies
    1. re: geekyfoodie

      Thanks geekyfoodie! Those are great ideas that will please the carnivore as well as the vegetarian. If we were to include a plate of cold meat, what would you suggest?

      1. re: sandrina

        I'm a fan of ham... black forest, honey, pepper... you name it. If anything, I'd do a cold cut platter a variety of interesting cheeses, and handful of different crackers, and two really good meats. That's just me, though, as I'm a big cheese fan. For protein, beans and nuts are cheaper than meat, so dips and bowls of nuts are just as filling.

        A fun twist on baguette slices would be to do "ham-n-cheese", where you put a slice of freshly sliced ham with a cheese like Gruyeres and maybe a sliver of onion, then toast it until the cheese is melted. You could also do mozzarella or goat cheese on top of a tomato slice and a leaf of basil and it'd be pizza-esque.

        I also love to do quesadillas as an app. Fill them with whatever combination of cheese and meat that you can come up with. They're easy to make in large quantities. A friend of mine had a quesadilla party... she had flavors like pesto chicken, four cheese, etc.

        Another great easy-in-bulk crowd-pleaser would be soup. I found a great roasted red pepper/tomato soup (box of 6 cartons) at Costco. At home, we'd throw corn, noodles, and meatballs into it for a quick meal. You can doll it up a little or leave it completely alone and heat it up. Serve it in cute cups and put a dab/drizzle of creme fraiche/sour cream/cream on top (choose the one that compliments the soup best). It looks great that way.

        I read the rest of the thread and there are fantastic suggestions. Sounds like you're going to have a fabulous party! Good luck!

    2. Search your local deli. Sometimes they have very inexpensive party packages. Nothing fancy a simple cold cut platter might be nice. You might even be able to work out some sort of deal with them if your building gives them a "corporate account."

      1. You said cheap, I thought bean...therefore hummus! Maybe even cheaper, deviled eggs!

        1. fruit/veggie platters?
          Crackers, cheese, cold cuts?
          Tzatziki and hummus w/cut up fresh sour dough?

          1. chicken wings-- especially if you cut them into three pieces at the joint-- they can be marinaded with practically anything, baked and then finger food.