Ask the grumpies: Party food

Debbie M. asks

What’s your favorite food to bring to parties? To see at parties?


We’ve already discussed potlucks specifically, so we’ll assume you’re not talking about pot-lucks, but about parties for which you are not expected to bring anything.

Wine is a good choice for these.  I am partial to bringing a bottle of Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc, as it is a light tasty wine that is unpretentious but also classy.  It’s not out of place anywhere, at least not anywhere that wine is served.  (I know this because several people whose opinion on wine we value far higher than our own have served this or purchased it at restaurants.)  Sometimes though, we’ll bring a six-pack of whatever DH’s favorite hard cider of the moment is.  #2 agrees and says she likes to bring wine or a beer that she likes so she knows there will be at least one beer she likes.

If we’re not sure that alcohol will be welcome, we usually whip up a dessert because you can never have too many of those.  Sometimes a pie, sometimes cookies, sometimes a quick bread or cupcakes.  Whatever we feel like will fit.

My favorite foods to see at parties:  little sausages in modified bbq sauce in a warmer (because we would never make these at home and I love them) and cucumber sandwiches (because I love them but never seem to be able to make them right… though I suspect the people who make them right are dying off :( ).  I also like cocktail shrimp.  And sometimes people make really good cake, but it’s hard to tell if cake is going to be good without trying it… I suppose that’s a reason to have children, so you can make them try the cake.

#2 can get behind some tasty dips– she likes things that are salty and flavorful.  Most people’s sweets are too sweet.

#1 kind of likes raw veggie trays with dips.  #2 agrees, citing cucumbers and carrots specifically.


23 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: Party food”

  1. Leah Says:

    What is DH’s fav cider right now? I’m enjoying Woodchuck’s winter offering. I really like aged cider from various types of barrels (esp bourbon).

    I also love little cocktail sausages. Nice cheese (blue, goat, brie) and crackers is a fave, and I love to see fruit. Sometimes, party food can be heavy, so a light option is nice.

  2. Holly@ClubThrifty Says:

    All of the things you mentioned are foods I see at parties around here too. We typically bring a cheese ball and beer or wine. That way, I know my kids will eat cheese and crackers if nothing else.

  3. Liz Says:

    I like to bring avocados and fresh crab-leg meat — instant salad/appetizer. You put the crab meat in a half of an avocado, shell still on. No seasoning required. Just a spoon gets messy. We have small parties, so it’s a nice luxury to add to the feast. If there were lots of guests, I’d bring nice cheese and sausage.

  4. Flavia Says:

    Deviled eggs! I make these frequently for parties and am happy to bring them, though the transportation is sometimes awkward. Smoked salmon on toast points. A really good guacamole or homemade salsa. Cheese, dips, nuts, etc. (I’m a savory rather than a sweet person–one dessert is nice, but I don’t need a whole table full of cookies, brownies, whatever.)

    And lately I’m getting into punches. They’re nice because you can adjust the alcohol or the fizz or the sweetness up or down, depending on the crowd, and it always feels festive and makes a nice focal point for the room (every thrift store in the nation has a couple of 1960s punch bowls for sale for $10 max).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      My MIL has a special dish just for transporting deviled eggs. Nom.

      • Leah Says:

        me too! om nom nom. I like making them too. My faves are ones w/ smoked paprikaand more mustard than mayo OR ones made with wasabi mayo.

    • chacha1 Says:

      Love deviled eggs. My preferred combination uses mustard and bit of chutney, but I made some really interesting (and funny-looking PINK) ones with pickled beets one time. :-)

    • Liz Says:

      My future in-laws make the sweetest deviled eggs ever. Like, Miracle Whip AND sugar in the recipe. I eat them to be polite. But then I make my own at home, just for me, with dijon, paprika, and maybe parsley or tarragon. And I savor my superior deviled eggs. They don’t know what they’re missing.

  5. Frances Elliott Says:

    I have to respond with a cucumber sandwich recipe!

    1/2 C butter
    1/2 C cream cheese
    1 big loaf of high-quality, presliced white bread, like pepperidge farm sandwich white bread
    raw garlic, slivered thinly
    cucumber, peeled and sliced thinly
    optional: blue cheese, sundried tomatos, olives, etc..
    cut crusts off bread and then slice each slice in half longitudinally, so you have 2 extra thin but full-sized slices.

    warm the butter and cream cheese briefly (under 30 secs in the microwave) so you can mix it easily.

    spread the cream cheese mixture thinly on 2 bread slices (your sandwich will have filling on both sides) sprinkle slivered garlic, cucumber, and whatever other goodies you please over the mixture. put your slices together, and cut the sandwich into 4 triangles

  6. Ana Says:

    I much prefer savory, so if we are bringing something (other than wine or a 6 pack, which is also our usual go-to) we bring: cheese/crackers, deviled eggs, homemade hummus or 7 layer dip.

  7. Linda Says:

    Considering your love of fancy cheese, I couldn’t believe you didn’t list it as a snack to bring to a party!

    I’m more inclined to bring salty snacks, too, although cookies that have a mix of salty/savory stuff in them like nuts can be nice. Nuts are one of my favorite snacks. I prefer to get ones that are only lightly salted, though.

    Cheese and crackers or crusty bread are good. Even better if you can add a nice jar of complimentary pickles or spread. I went to a party just before Christmas and brought a jar of homemade sour cherry jam. I figured they would have cheese (they did) and the cherry jam on cheese is delicious.

  8. chacha1 Says:

    the fancy cheeses I like best are too expensive to share at parties!
    The Huntington Gardens tea room makes delicious cucumber sandwiches. I think the secret to theirs is dense but soft white bread + very thinly sliced cucumber chilled in a tiny bit of vinegar + seasoned cream cheese. Damn, I want one now.
    I’m a Bring Alcohol kind of girl. Even if it doesn’t get opened at the party, it’s a nice generic host gift. If the hosts don’t drink and say “nothing” when asked what we could bring, I’d take them at their word and just make a note to invite them to something soon.

  9. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Oh man, I am SO HUNGRY just reading these suggestions.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Someone come and make me deviled eggs! I am too lazy to make them myself.

      • Debbie M Says:

        Some stores in my area started selling packets of hard boiled eggs. Already peeled. (Trader Joe’s came. Then HEB followed.) A little pricy, but not too crazy.

        If you can find these, well, you still have to slice them and mix the stuff and put it back in the egg, but you might not be too lazy. Especially if you eat most of the half dozen eggs yourself instead of bringing them to a party. I got my half dozen to last three days the time I tried.

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