You won't need to work very hard at this. Most holiday party snacks can be assembled in less than 10 minutes, and many can be assembled ahead of time. And the only truly important rule is to make sure everything is neat and easy to eat (one-handing it really is best for party food).
To help get your party started, we've assembled some of our favourite snack ideas. We've even given you a way to jazz up your basic bowl of mixed nuts.
10 FRESH IDEAS FOR HOLIDAY SNACKS:
— Spiced nuts: Beat 1 egg white with 1 teaspoon of water until frothy. Add 3 cups of your favourite unsalted nuts and toss to coat. In another bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, a pinch of cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss the sugar mixture with the nuts and spread on a rimmed baking sheet lined with kitchen parchment. Bake at 350 F until fragrant and dry.
— Marinated olives: Whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, the zest of 1 orange, 2 minced cloves garlic and 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh rosemary. Toss with 2 cups mixed pitted olives. Refrigerate and allow to marinate for at least 4 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving.
— Honeyed goat cheese: Set an 8-ounce log of soft goat cheese on a serving plate. Drizzle the cheese liberally with honey, then sprinkle with toasted pecans, chopped fresh tarragon, grated lemon zest and ground black pepper. Serve with crackers or sliced baguette.
— Apricot prosciutto beans: Spread a half slice of prosciutto very thinly with apricot preserves. Wrap the prosciutto around several haricot verts (thin French green beans) and a thin strip of roasted red pepper. Make a dozen or so bundles in this fashion, then stack on a serving tray. Sprinkle with ground black pepper.
— Bacon-date cream cheese dip: Beat an 8-ounce block of cream cheese with 2 tablespoons of milk until light and fluffy. Stir in 1/2 cup crumbled well-cooked bacon, 1/2 cup chopped dates and 2 thinly sliced scallions. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Top with a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
— Avocado shrimp cocktail: In a food processor, combine the flesh of 3 avocados with 1/2 cup cocktail sauce, 2 tablespoons horseradish, the juice of 1 lime, a splash of hot sauce and a bit of salt and pepper. Process until smooth, then transfer to a serving bowl. Top with sliced scallions and serve with cooked, chilled shrimp.
— Candied kielbasa bites: Slice 1 pound of kielbasa into thin ovals. Arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix together 3/4 cup brown sugar with 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Sprinkle evenly over the kielbasa. Bake at 350 F until the slices are golden brown and the sugar is bubbly, about 30 minutes.
— Smashed lemon cannellini beans: Drain and rinse a 15-ounce can of cannellini beans. Pat dry with paper towels, then spread on a dinner plate. Roughly smash the beans with a fork or potato masher. Drizzle all over with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with grated lemon zest, chopped fresh oregano, coarse sea salt, black pepper and smoked paprika. Serve with toasted pita chips.
— Marinated mozzarella with anchovy and peanuts: Mash 3 anchovies with a fork in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup good olive oil, 1 pound cubed, drained fresh mozzarella, a pinch of red pepper flakes, 2 cloves grated garlic, 1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves, and 1/2 cup lightly chopped unsalted peanuts. Serve with bread for scooping.
— Sweet and spicy cracker bark: Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Arrange saltine crackers in a single layer covering the entire baking sheet. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (more or less to taste), 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice blend, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. Bring to a simmer and stir to combine. Pour the mixture over the crackers, spreading until the crackers are evenly covered. Bake at 350 F until golden brown and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the top with 1/2 cup crumbled crisp-cooked bacon and 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds. Allow to cool completely, then break into bite-sized pieces.