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17 Quick & Easy Holiday Appetizers & Cocktails that Impress

Looking for delicious holiday appetizers and cocktails to serve when you entertain this year? We’ve rounded up some simple ideas that don’t require special ingredients or tons of time in the kitchen.

The holidays are the perfect time to get together with friends and celebrate the season!

Of course, they’re also super busy, so you don’t want to be stuck spending hours preparing complicated foods.

This is the perfect time to make entertaining extra easy, and we’ve gathered lots of ideas and recipes to help you.

You’re going to love these simple recipes that will help you spend more time hanging out with your friends and family.

So grab your favorite beverage and take a look at these tantalizing ideas, just in time for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

AnnMarie and Anne from Simply2Moms holding coupe glasses of holiday Campari cocktails.

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Welcome to our Virtual Dinner Club!

We joined up with four of our blogging friends to create a virtual “dinner” club back at the beginning of 2021.

Each month we invite a guest host to join in our fun.

This month, our friend Kim from Shiplap and Shells is joining us from her cottage on a lake in the Pacific Northwest. Wait until you see her ideas!

Every month we choose a new theme, and even though we call ourselves a dinner club, we’ve shared ideas for breakfasts, brunches, luncheons, and cocktail parties too.

This month our theme is a holiday charcuterie party.

We all shared ideas for unique charcuterie boards, one of our favorite ways to entertain.

Today, we’re rounding up ideas for cocktails and appetizers that are terrific on their own, or that can be served as part of a charcuterie display.

Collage of dishes to serve at a holiday cocktail party.

Be sure to check out all of our virtual dinner club tablescapes and menus!

Holiday Cocktail Ideas

Whenever we entertain, we love to mix up a signature cocktail to serve in addition to beer, wine, and soft drinks.

There’s something about a mixed drink that makes any occasion feel just a little more special, don’t you think?

Here are a few cocktail ideas to try during the holiday season.

Two champagne flutes with a red drink garnished with rosemary.

Poinsettia Cocktail

Our friend Stacy describes her Poinsettia Cocktails as tasting like “Christmas in a glass.” With just three ingredients, they’re super easy to mix up.

You can make them look extra special by serving them with Christmassy garnishes like rosemary, cranberries, and dried oranges.

We think they’d be a super fun alternative to a mimosa for a holiday brunch!

Overhead view of Pomegranate Margaritas on a table decorated for Christmas

Pomegranate Margarita

Give the classic margarita a festive flavor by adding some pomegranate to the mix.

The bright red color is perfect for your next Christmas party! We like mixing up Pomegranate Margaritas a pitcher at a time when we serve them because they’re always a hit with our guests!

Add a wedge of fresh pomegranate, slices of lime, and a bit of orange peel as a garnish.

Pitcher of raspberry prosecco cocktail with champagne glasses filled with fresh raspberries on a table.

Raspberry Prosecco Cocktail

Keeping with a Christmassy red and green theme, we think you’ll love this recipe for Raspberry Prosecco Cocktails during the holiday season.

Combining freshly crushed raspberries and Chambord liqueur with fresh lime juice and Prosecco creates a beautifully fruity beverage.

Savory Dips and Spreads

Even if you’re serving a charcuterie board, a savory dip or spread is always a welcome addition.

We like to serve an assortment of foods when we entertain. The trick is to serve enough food that no one leaves hungry, while not having so much that a lot goes to waste.

When you’re hosting a party, the general rule of thumb is to allow about 1/4 cup of dip per person. If you’re serving several kinds of dips, divide that amount accordingly (eg. serving 2 dips, plan on 1/8 cup of each dip per person).

Plan to serve two to four varieties of dippers (crackers, chips, sliced bread), and approximately 8-12 per person, depending on the type.

Dish of keto pizza dip on a serving board with assorted breads for dipping.

Hot Pizza Dip

Ooey gooey melted cheese, pizza sauce, and all your favorite pizza toppings?

Yes, please!

This Hot Pizza Dip has been a family favorite for years. You can easily make it ahead and it’s ready to bake in about 5 minutes.

Serve it with raw veggies, crackers, naan, garlic toast, bruschetta, or even make pizza crust bread sticks for dipping.

Bowl of clam dip with serving dish of crackers.

Creamy Clam Dip

Have you ever tried clam dip? I have to confess, I was skeptical the first time it was served at a party, but it’s so good!

Our friend Rachel is sharing her family’s recipe for Creamy Clam Dip and it’s perfect for the busy holiday season.

With just 4 ingredients, plus a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning, you can have it ready to serve in minutes. Serve it up hot or cold.

Round of Brie cheese topped with cranberry compote, toasted walnuts, pepitas, and rosemary on a parchment lined baking dish.

Cranberry Walnut Baked Brie

Take baked brie to a whole new level with this recipe for Cranberry Walnut Baked Brie.

Creamy, buttery warm brie cheese blends perfectly with the savory walnuts and rosemary combined with the tart cranberries.

It’s delicious enough to eat on its own! Or serve it with a variety of crackers or sliced baguettes.

Cast iron pan filled with Hot Roasted Corn Dip.

Roasted Hot Corn Dip

This cheesy Roasted Hot Corn Dip is a staple for parties all year long.

You can skip the step of roasting the corn to whip it up even faster. It’s still delicious!

Serve it with Fritos or tortilla chips, and assorted raw veggies.

If your family likes a little heat, you can even serve it with slices of jalapeno peppers as the dippers!

Small mason jar filled with southwest pimento cheese with mini peppers and crackers.

Southwest Pimento Cheese

Southern-style pimento cheese gets a spicy makeover with this Southwest Pimento Cheese recipe.

A mix of diced jalapenos and mild green chiles add a tasty little kick. Plus, this recipe has a secret ingredient that gives it some extra creaminess that will keep guests coming back for more.

You can easily make this spread a few days ahead. Serve it with crackers, baguettes, or raw veggies.

Not everything you serve needs to be homemade! Many grocery stores and warehouse stores offer some delicious dips and spreads. Make your entertaining easier by serving a variety of homemade and store-bought items.

Small Bites and Finger Foods

A typical charcuterie board contains a variety of meats, cheeses, olives, pickles, and other crudites.

This is perfect if you’re serving a meal too, however, if the appetizers are taking the place of a meal consider serving some hardier finger foods in addition.

The general rule of thumb is to plan on 10-12 pieces per person for an appetizer, or 16-20 pieces per person if this is a meal.

Here are some fun finger food additions to add to your holiday spread.

Serving dish of mini cheeseballs with wood skewers.

Easy Mini Cheeseballs

For years, entertaining always meant serving a cheese ball! But who says cheese balls have to be large? Why not make them bite-sized?

Our friend Michele is sharing her simple and classic Cheese Ball Recipe with tips for making and serving mini cheese balls.

The best part? They look great on the platter for the entire party!

You can also offer guests an assortment of crackers or bread on your buffet if they prefer spreading their cheese.

Mermaid tail platter with lamb meatballs and a cup of tzatziki sauce.

Greek Lamb Meatballs

Step up the meatballs you serve at your next party with this Greek Lamb Meatball recipe from our friend Kim! Serve them with savory Tzatziki sauce and you’ll find the plate empty in no time.

When serving meatballs at a party, be sure to provide an easy way for your guests to pick them up. Toothpicks or mini wood skewers are one option or think outside the box and use sprigs of fresh rosemary!

Plate with bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers stuffed with BLT filling and a cup of ranch dip.

BLT Jalapeno Poppers

These bacon-wrapped BLT Jalapeno Poppers are filled with a savory cheddar filling your guests will find hard to resist.

To minimize the heat of the jalapenos, carefully remove the white inner membranes and seeds. If you’re making a big batch, you may want to wear gloves to protect your skin.

You can assemble these poppers a day or two in advance, then bake them just before serving.

Cooked shrimp on circular kebab skewers with a spiral end stacked on a plate

Lemon Pepper Shrimp

Shrimp always makes a buffet feel extra special. Instead of serving shrimp cocktail this year, impress your guests with this savory Lemon Pepper Shrimp.

The shrimp is marinated in lemon juice with some fresh garlic, salt, and pepper. If you live somewhere with mild weather, grill it. Otherwise, you can cook it under the broiler or in a cast iron skillet.

It’s so flavorful, that no cocktail sauce is required!

Wood serving board with southern deviled eggs topped with bacon, cracked black peppercorns, and smoked paprika.

Classic Southern Deviled Eggs

Who says deviled eggs are only for warm weather entertaining? They’re popular year-round on the menus at our local restaurants, and we bet your guests will appreciate them too.

These Southern Deviled Eggs with Bacon feature a secret ingredient that makes the filling extra delicious.

You could even serve them plain and offer your guests a variety of garnishes to make their own deviled egg creation.

Some other simple finger foods can be found at your local grocery store or Costco. Make your entertaining simple by picking up trays of cut veggies so you don’t have to spend time prepping them yourself.

Puff pastry appetizers in the frozen food section, pigs in a blanket, premade meatballs, mini crabcakes, mozzarella sticks, and wings are all great additions to a party spread that don’t require extra effort on your part.

Sweet Dips and Desserts

No holiday party is complete without some sweet treats!

Everyone always seems to leave room for dessert during the holidays.

Plan to serve two to three types of sweets, and allow for about three pieces per person.

Here are some tasty recipes that work great on a buffet.

Serving platter filled with red and green fruit surrounding a bowl of fruit dip.

Creamy Fruit Dip

Everyone loves fresh fruit, so be sure to serve a platter of assorted fruits at your party.

You can make the fruit extra special by including our friend Jen’s Creamy Fruit Dip!

This sweet dip tastes a little bit like a light cheesecake and it takes cut fruit to a whole new level.

Confession time: Anne likes to dip potato chips in this sweet dip too!

Bowl of low carb Cannoli Dip on a plate with cinnamon tortilla chips.

Cannoli Cream Dip

One of the best parts of cannoli is the lightly sweet filling.

This easy Cannoli Dip has a touch of cinnamon and is delicious with fruit or cinnamon pita chips.

Make it extra special by mixing in mini chocolate chips or chocolate shavings.

Keto brickle dip in a serving bowl surrounded by low carb cinnamon tortilla crisps.

Keto Brickle Dip

No matter when we serve it, this Brickle Dip recipe is always a hit.

The thick, creamy dip tastes like caramel cheesecake with bits of crunchy toffee and chocolate mixed in.

Serve it with cookies, gingersnaps, sliced apples, or homemade cinnamon tortillas.

Christmas s'mores board with special holiday ingredients like gingerbread cookies and peppermint bark.

Indoor S’mores Board

Want to really wow your guests? Treat them to an Indoor S’mores Board!

A tabletop firepit like this one allows you to turn dessert into an entire experience.

Serve a variety of cookies, candies, fruit, and marshmallows to let each guest create their perfect s’more.

Close up of a tall shot glass filled with Low Carb Salted Caramel Cheesecake Shooters on a wood tray

Mini Salted Caramel Cups

When you’re entertaining a crowd, consider serving individual portions of a special dessert like these Salted Caramel Shooters.

Layers of salted caramel, toasted pecans, shaved chocolate, and cheesecake are a decadent way to end a meal.

Closeup of a shot glass filled with low carb caramel apple cheesecake parfaits

Mini Caramel Apple Cups

Another delicious individually-sized dessert are these Caramel Apple Shooters.

Caramel cheesecake is layered with gooey caramel, apple pie filling, and toasted nuts.

The portion size is small enough that guests can enjoy one and still have room for another treat (or two!).

When it comes to the holidays, there’s no shortage of ideas for sweet treats! Some other things to serve: an assortment of your favorite cookies, trifle, or a favorite cake.

More Amazing Menu Ideas for Entertaining

Over the years, we’ve hosted all kinds of parties.

If you’re looking for more inspiration for what to serve at your event, here are all our menus, including links to the recipes.

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment.

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