Plan ahead and start early. Find recipes, such as Make-Ahead Spinach Phyllo Roll-Ups, that can be prepared in advance and frozen for up to 3 months. Then all you need to do is bake them when your guests arrive.
Keep the appetizers simple, so your guests are still hungry for the main meal. Try Baked Crab Rangoon or Cheesy Hot Crab and Red Pepper Spread for recipes that are full of flavor, yet not too filling.
When deciding how many appetizers to serve your guests, plan on about 6 per person for a dinner party. Keep in mind that during a get-together, guests will generally consume about 2 drinks during the first hour, and about 1 drink per hour after that.
When planning your menu, think “variety” - serve foods with an assortment of colors, flavors and textures.
If serving cold dips, make them 1 or 2 days ahead of time. Not only will this reduce your kitchen prep duties on the day of the party, but the flavors of the dips will actually improve with the overnight refrigeration.
Don't forget food safety. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold when serving them at the party.
A common catering trick is to place a used napkin or plate on a tray so guests know where to place their dirty dishes. Keep a few trays or other receptacles spaced around the room to make cleanup easier.
Clearly label all dishes so guests with allergies or other dietary concerns will know what’s safe for them to eat.
Line serving bowls with fall-colored napkins or linens for a festive touch. Or line serving platters with pressed leaves covered with waxed paper for a stained-glass effect.
Make sure you cut or slice appetizers into small pieces. Bite-size portions are best for easy eating.