Party snacks are stepping out of the shadows and into the spotlight when it comes to menus for entertaining.
Like fashion filters down from the designers on the runway to main street shops; entertaining trends filter down from the top chefs in restaurants across America, to the tables in our homes. One such trend was noted in a recent research study by Mintel Menu Insights. It found that “snacking is the new way to order at restaurants. Menu items that contain the descriptors “snack,” “snackable,” or “snacker” have increased by a staggering 170% since 2007 and growth is expected to carry on as restaurants continue to explore this new trend.” Snacks are the New ‘Meal’ restaurants are serving up. I believe this trend illustrates a change in our lifestyle and our budgets and translates perfectly for home entertaining – especially for the Holidays.
Why it Works?
Time and Money – Unfortunately there doesn’t seem too be much free time on the weekends anymore. This really puts the squeeze on home entertaining from both the host and guests’ perspectives. Modern lives that include family bring busy schedules for all – sports, activities, work and chores around the house eat up all our time. The hours we can get-together are shrinking, so hosting a party from 3pm – 5pm instead of an all day BBQ makes sense. We get to catch up, take a time out and enjoy each other instead of constantly passing on seeing family and friends, until a season or maybe more has passed. The time crunch is also coupled with tighter budgets and this makes “party snack” style entertaining an attractive alternative to hosting an all out affair.
It’s Fun – Like most people, the cocktail hour is always my favorite part of a wedding. We all love variety and there is something fun about being able to move and mingle while we eat – I called it “party grazing”. Serving snacks allows for “party grazing” and can be a much less stressful way to entertain.
How and What to Serve for Party Snacks:
Next time you entertain, why feel like you need to put out a big sit down meal? Of course the hour you are hosting and duration of your party will dictate what’s appropriate. If you serve snacks only for Christmas Dinner you may hear some loud complaints. However, if your party is not over the dinner hour and isn’t all day – go for party snacks. Call it a get-together instead of a party and cut the duration down from 4hrs to 2hrs. Ask guests to join you for a snack and some conversation as a break in the day. If you haven’t had friends or family over in years, try it – it may be the style of entertaining that works best for you!
Suggestions for Party Snacks: You want to put out platters that are family friendly and let your guests make up their own plates. Pick 3 platters to serve with at least one that has bread/chips/pita. Stick with a theme for the food – Italian, Mexican, Asian, or your favorite.
- Cheese Plate with Bread or Crackers
- Fruit Plate with Dip
- Vegetable Plate with Dip
- Pita or Tortilla Chips and Salsa
- Chicken Wings
- Carved Meat (like beef or chicken that can be served at room temperature) with sliced bread and condiments
For more ideas check out our Friday Night Bites recipes (over 75) and our appetizer, salad and soup categories for recipes>