The hors d'oeuvres selection at today's stores is amazing—sometimes several aisles are dedicated to nibbles and noshes.
- Cheese please. Skip over the boring block of cheddar and go for a wheel of creamy Brie. Warm it in the microwave oven for 1 to 2 minutes on medium-high right before guests arrive—it's delicious with grapes or on top of crackers.
- Simple shrimp. Frozen shrimp are quick and easy to defrost -- and taste fabulous. Buy a bag of medium-size shrimp. Or pick up an already cleaned and cooked ring of shrimp with sauce, take it out of the container, and put it on your own platter—no one will ever know you cheated!
- Frankly speaking. Kids love pigs-in-the-blanket, but buy extra, because let's face it—adults go crazy for these classic bites too.
- That's Italian. We bought the ingredients for a huge antipasto platter (dried meats like prosciutto and salami, olives, and fresh mozzarella), but we divided the ingredients among several smaller dishes. It looks prettier on the table that way.
- Warm bites. Assorted frozen hors d'oeuvres come in large boxes—ours contained 50, which was more than enough (this mix had mini quiches, cheese puffs, spinach bites, and empanadas). Heat and put them out early—they're just as good at room temperature.
- Take a dip. Buy three or four gourmet dips (we went with hummus, fresh salsa, goat-cheese spread, and olive tapenade) to serve with a big platter of cut-up vegetables. Round out the dish with whole-grain crackers and crisp breadsticks.