7 Make-Ahead Holiday Appetizers

This is how it started.  I had a whole weekend where I had nothing to do – A WHOLE WEEKEND.  Bored and “needing a project” I decided that my festively decorated home was a waste since only my husband and I would see it.  So I (after consulting with my husband) decided we should have a party!

Well then when I had a second WHOLE WEEKEND with no specific activities, I decided we should paint all of the trim in our home in preparation for said party….super aggressive and unnecessary move.

Three days before our party we were doorless, knee deep in white paint (even Stella got paint on her), and had a growing guest list of 25+ people.

It was at this moment that I was SUPER pumped I had pre-made over half of my planned menu.  As mentioned, I hate having to rush the week of a party.  You already have to worry about cleaning, decorating, buying ice, (and in this case finishing your home project).  Being able to pull appetizers out of the freezer is a huge time win!

So if you are looking to get ahead of the holidays, here are some great make-in-advance appetizers (in order of fan favorites)

1.) Buffalo Chicken Bites: I used mini muffin tins to make them more cute (aka bited-sized 😉 and to maximize the recipe).TIP: Spray your pan REALLY well!

2.) Spinach Dip & Fillo Cups: I love that this was the second favorite because it is all store bought. While you have to prep this the day-of (max 10 min.), you can buy the ingredients in advance and its super quick.  You literally buy your favorite spinach dip from the store (for me it’s the stuff from Costco) and put it into the Athens Mini Fillo Cups and pop in the oven on about 300 degrees for 10 minutes or so.  You can find the Fillo Cups in the frozen food section by pie crusts and desserts at most grocery stores.

3/4.) Southwest Turkey Meatballs with Creamy Cilantro Dipping Sauce and Asian Turkey Meatballs With Lime Sesame Dipping Sauce: Someone had made these for a bridal shower I attended and I liked that they were a somewhat healthy and hearty option! (they also worked slick in the new triple crockpot my HUSBAND bought on BLACK FRIDAY all on his own.  He knows the way to my heart…)

5/6.) Sweet & Salty Family Chex Recipes: I’m not sure where the salty chex recipe came from, but it is a staple in my family.  My dad has been making it for years, in the same giant yellow plastic bowl.  It is the right blend of spice and salt and I love that the recipe is written on a crusty, over-used post-it.  Luke’s mom, Roxie, also makes the most amazing sweet Chex at all holidays and it is a HUGE hit as well! I guess we have Chex connoisseurs in our families?! (recipes below)

7.) Sausage Stuffing Balls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce: I liked this appetizer because it seemed festive and was a bit heartier.  It was also still cute (again I like my food bite-sized) and a great use of leftover Thanksgiving stuffing!

Outside of the treats above, we also had:

  • Caprese Skewers
  • Veggies and Dip (Remember my mom’s dill dip recipe?)
  • Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese:  This is my party trick and Luke’s favorite
  • Shrimp Cocktail Dip (also a Tucker family holiday staple)
  • Bruschetta Bar (aka French bread, pesto, olive tapenade, and this bruschetta recipe)
  • Cranberry Pecan Mini Goat Cheese Balls (from this site)
  • Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes (from this site – I made these in advance and froze them along with the truffles below!)
  • Peppermint Oreo Truffles (from this site)
  • a Hot Cocoa Bar (using this super unhealthy-but-tasty recipe from Pinterest) with optional Rumchata or Peppermint Schnapps 🙂
  • Christmas Charades that I printed from this site
  • And a lot of beverage options!

Needless to say we all had plenty to eat/drink and were very merry – It was a successful party and 100% worth the chaos leading-up to it!

Happy Holidays!

Here are the rest of the recipes:

Salty Chex

Combine:
– 1 Cup mixed nuts
– 2 Cups pretzels
– 3 Cups each chex (rice, corn, wheat)
– 2 Cups cheese crackers (cheese-its, etc)

For the Sauce:
– 1 Tbl salt
– 3/4 tsp onion powder
– 8 Tbl butter, melted
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1 Tbl lemon pepper
– 4 Tbl worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Combine dry ingredient and set aside.  Melt butter then combine with spices.  Pour over chex mixture and mix to combine.  Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Sweet Chex

In a large roaster pan lined with aluminum foil, combine:
– 3/4 box of Crispex cereal
– 2 cups pretzels
– 1 small can mixed nuts
– 3/4 cup M&Ms

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a small sauce pan, bring to a boil:
– 2 sticks butter (not margarine)
– 2 cups brown sugar
– 1/2 cup light karo syrup

Pour sauce over layered mixture but do not stir.  Place in oven for 7 minutes – remove and stir well

Return to oven for another 7 minutes – remove and stir, then spread to cool.

Break it up and store in a tight container or bags – can be frozen for 2-3 weeks

Caprese Skewers

– Cherry Tomatoes
– Basil
– Mozzarella pearls
– Balsamic Glaze
– Toothpicks

Layer tomato, basil, mozzarella ball on a toothpick then drizzle with balsamic glaze!

Bacon Wrapped Dates

– Pitted Dates
– Package of Bacon
– Goat Cheese
– Brown Sugar
– Chili Powder
– toothpicks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil then place a cooling rack on-top, heavily sprayed with cooking oil. (this allows the bacon grease to drip to the aluminum vs. cooking the dates in a pool of grease)

Slice a slit in the dates and stuff with goat cheese.  Wrap in 1/3 slice of bacon and insert a toothpick through the whole date.

Place the dates on the sprayed cooling rack and sprinkle with brown sugar and chili powder.  Bake approximately 20 minutes, flipping once.

Shrimp Cocktail Dip

– 8 oz. cream cheese (I subbed dairy free)
– 1/2 to 3/4 cup chili sauce
– 1/2 green pepper, chopped
– 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped shrimp (I buy frozen salad shrimp)
– 1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
– 1 small can chopped black olives (optional)
– tortilla chips

On a serving tray, spread cream cheese then cover with chili sauce.  Spread green pepper, shrimp, cheese, and olives until evenly covered.

Serve chilled with tortilla chips

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