Festive Finger Foods Without the Fuss
Festive Finger Foods Without the Fuss
I love having friends over for drinks and nibbles, especially during the holiday season. However, entertaining over the holidays can be stressful and time-consuming if you spend too much time in the kitchen. Nobody wants to be locked away in the kitchen cooking food when they could be relaxing with their guests. It’s much easier to have done all of the preparation and much of the cooking before people arrive. The most I want to do when people come over is to pop a tray in the oven to cook or arrange some tasty treats on a festive serving platter.
So how do you provide your guests with a selection of impressive nibbles without the stress? My tip is to serve one or two hot things accompanied by a couple of cold plates – all of which can be prepared in advance, leaving plenty of time to get yourself ready and perhaps even have a glass of fizz.
When planning my menu, I prefer to go for nibbles that can be eaten in one or two bites. Nobody wants to juggle a plate of food with a glass of wine and a napkin. It becomes exceptionally stressful and may eventually result in something landing on the floor. Use the recipe ideas below as inspiration and tailor them to suit the food choices of your guests and the time and effort you want to put into your menu.
I plan to make and serve the delicious mushroom and walnut pate, which I’ll make the day before and then spread onto bite-sized whole-wheat crackers just before my guests arrive. I’ll make my own hummus and create the hummus crostini with olive and sun-dried tomatoes. I’ll also bake some crispy chickpeas and put them in small bowls on the coffee table, along with some nuts and dried fruits for guests to nibble throughout the evening. I’ll prepare some pesto and grated vegan cheese pinwheels in the morning, along with my favourite, the spinach and artichoke cups. They can both sit in the fridge all day, ready to be popped into a preheated oven just before your guests arrive.
Tortilla Bites from I am Homesteader are delicious and take only a few minutes to make. They’re great if you’re looking for a vegetarian option. As they are so quick to make, you can whip up a second batch in a second if you feel like you’re running low on food – or have ravenous guests.
Mushroom and Walnut Pate from the wonderful Sam Turnbull’s It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken is a flavour-packed spread that’s made simply with a few ingredients like walnuts and mushrooms and lots of seasoning. This is a real crowd pleaser and is great for vegans and those on a gluten-free diet. The recipe is good for about 8 people, and you can quickly scale it up, with any leftovers suitable to be stored in the freezer.
Tea Club Sandwiches from Tatyana’s Everyday Food start with a toasted baguette base, layered with mayonnaise and finished with the toppings of your choice. They can be made vegan or vegetarian if your crowd requires them and can easily be scaled to cater for larger parties.
Hummus Crostini from Yummy Mummy Kitchen is the most uncomplicated recipe ever. The hardest part (which is really simple) is making the crostini. Then you simply spread your hummus (you can buy it from the store to save time or make your own) and top with whatever you fancy. I love sliced olives and sun-dried tomatoes or avocado and cherry tomatoes with a crack of black pepper. As they’re so similar to the Tea Club Sandwiches above, I’d go with one or the other and not both.
As noted in The Guardian (UK) recently, these pastry pinwheels are ridiculously simple to make and most delicious when served warm. I suggest using store-bought pastry instead of making your own as puff pastry takes a long time and is a tricky one to get right.. I’ve made these so many times, each time with different fillings. My favourite is pesto and grated vegan cheese, and you can even make sweet ones with mincemeat or even by simply spreading it with jam or marmalade and a light sprinkling of dried and chopped fruits.
Taco Salad Cups from Just a Taste are tasty miniature versions of the well-known and much-loved taco. This recipe uses beef as the base, but it can also be made vegetarian by switching the beef for black beans or spiced sauteed mushrooms.
Vegan Spinach Artichoke Cups from Vegan Huggs combines one of my favourite dips with a crunchy pastry case. They’re so delicious I could quickly work my way through a plate of these.
Crispy Ranch Chickpeas from Running in a Skirt are yummy, crunchy snacks that are so simple to make. If you don’t have all the ingredients for the seasoning you can either combine what you have in your cupboard (garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, dried herbs, etc.) or use a pre-mixed ranch seasoning that you can pick up at most grocery stores.
Choose your favourite recipes, switch up the toppings and fillings to suit your tastes or the dietary requirements of you and your guests, and away you go. If you make any of the recipes or have any favourite finger food recipes, please share them in the comments below
What other festive finger foods are you making this season? Let us know here!
With 30 years of general management experience in the global insurance industry and having lived in 4 countries, Jacqui now spends her time between London and New York where she continues to pursue her passion for writing, food, books and travel.
A Reiki practitioner, yogi and huge animal advocate, her home isn’t complete without a furbaby or three. In addition to being a BooknBrunch contributor, she writes for industry publications.
Favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Favourite brunch dish: avocado toast with tomato and chilli