So you decided to host a Christmas party this year. But now the party date is looming and you still haven’t decided on the menu. Plus, you’ve got so many dietary restrictions to work around. What ya gonna do? These easy party food ideas will help you plan the perfect Christmas party in a hurry.
First, anytime you have picky eaters or dietary restrictions to work around, serving food buffet-style is best. People can pick and choose what works for them and pass on the food that doesn’t. The only consideration is to make sure there is no cross-contamination if you are dealing with allergies.
All of the ideas below lend themselves to buffet-style meals (with many items that can be prepped ahead) to make hosting your party so much easier.
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Burrito bowls are always a hit at any gathering. Cook some rice and prepare some chicken, beef, or pork, and set out some condiments and you are ready. You can prepare the rice in a rice cooker or Instant Pot to keep it warm. You can also keep the proteins warm in slow cookers too. Just be sure to add a bit of liquid so they don’t dry out.
And burrito bowls are suitable for almost everyone. The vegetarians can leave off the meat, but you’ve got beans for protein. Even low-carbers can turn their bowl into a burrito salad by leaving off the rice. This list of ideas for a burrito bar is by no means exhaustive. As a bonus-most of it can be prepared ahead of time.
- Rice-white or brown, your choice.
- Chicken or beef or pork, cooked and seasoned with taco seasoning.
- Shredded lettuce
- Chopped bell peppers or jalapenos (or both!)
- Black beans
- Chopped tomatoes
- Salsa or barbeque sauce-We often make burrito bowls with leftover pulled pork.
- Cheddar cheese
- Sour cream
- Sliced avocado or guacamole
- Onions or pickled onions
A taco bar uses many of the same ingredients as the burrito bar. Just switch out the rice for taco shells. Or if you are inviting kids to the party, this is a kid-friendly option if they aren’t ready for burrito bowls. After all, its not much harder to set out some taco shells with the other ingredients. Be prepared for some clean-up under the kids table though. Tacos are a bit messier to eat!
Baked Potato Bar
A baked potato bar is another option that allows you to serve ingredients buffet style. Cook the potatoes in the slow cooker, and they can stay warm for several hours.
- Baked potatoes
- Cooked broccoli-You can get a bag or two of the microwave kind to make it easy.
- Shredded cheese
- Chopped ham
- Sour cream
- Bacon bits
- Chopped onions
- Salt & pepper
- Chopped chives
A regular salad bar is another great option. Set out several types of dressings (ranch, honey mustard, Italian) and many other toppings and you have an easy party that can be made ahead of time. Check out this post for more salad ideas.
Pasta Salad Bar
For a ladies lunch, a make-your-own pasta salad bar is a great party option. Cook some pasta (regular, whole wheat, or gluten free) and add any number of the ideas below. Serve with some salad dressings to pour over and you have another quick party idea.
- Cooked pasta
- Chopped chicken, ham, or turkey
- Salami or pepperoni
- Chopped bell peppers
- Chopped red onion
- Black olives
- Cubed cheddar or mozzarella cheese
- Shredded carrots
- Salad dressings – ranch, honey mustard, Italian
Serve the pasta salad in large bowls so everyone can add what they like but still have room to stir the dressing in to evenly coat the ingredients.
No-cook Easy Party Food Ideas
And if you’re really pressed for time, there are plenty of options at your local grocery store. Pick up several types of sliced sandwich meat from the deli. Add a couple of really good cheeses.
Hit up the pickle aisle for some olives and pickled vegetables. Pick up several varieties of good quality crackers. Grab some grapes and maybe some apples, if you’ve got time to slice them. Pick up a pre-made vegetable tray and dip from the produce section.
Head to the beverage aisle and pick up some sodas for the non-drinkers and wine and/or beer and then get yourself home.
Ice Cream Bar
An ice cream bar makes a great ending for a party. Most ice creams are gluten-free and they have recently come out with several kinds of dairy-free ice cream too. You can provide lots of toppings to make a great ending to your party.
- Ice cream in a couple flavors
- Chocolate syrup
- Caramel syrup
- Whipped cream
- Chopped cookies
- Chocolate chips or chunks
- M&M’s or Reese’s pieces
- Gummy candy
- Maraschino cherries
- Sliced bananas
These are a few of the easy party food ideas I have used when we’ve invited people over. The beauty of these meals is that everyone can fix their meal the way they like and most of the components for these party food ideas can be made ahead of time, ensuring you can be enjoying your guests instead in the kitchen cooking.
For more ways to make inviting people over easier, see my post on hospitality. What kind of food have you served at parties?