Hosting a holiday party usually means ramping up a mile-long shopping list, prepping for days, and standing in the kitchen for hours … the price we pay to host the socks off of our guests.
But here’s the secret: a little bit of thinking outside of the box can help you pull together a cocktail party in 15 minutes or less. Rather than cooking, chopping, simmering, and sautéing a table full of party eats, prep a Build-Your-Own Bruschetta Bar, and invite your guests into an interactive food experience.
Whatever your party budget, whatever your guest list size, a DIY bruschetta bar is perfect. Here’s the basic formula to follow. For a party of four, simply lay out two of the following. For a party of eight, set out three of each of the following. And so on.
Build-Your-Own Bruschetta Bar
- Toasted bread slices (baguette, sourdough, etc.)
- Savory meat (sliced salami, prosciutto, pepperoni, pancetta, etc.)
- Soft cheese (ricotta, cream cheese, bleu, brie, chevre, etc.)
- Hard cheese (Parmesan, gouda, cheddar, etc.)
- Antipasto or veggies (olives, peppers, marinated artichokes, mushrooms, etc.)
- Savory spread (pesto, tapenade, etc.)
- Sweet fruit or spread (berries, figs, dates, honey, jam, etc.)
- Fresh greens or herbs (arugula, rosemary, basil, thyme, etc.)
- To prep an instant party, set out each of the ingredients on an oversized cutting board or on individual plates. Make your party table shine by displaying your eats on different levels. Place cheeses on mini cheese stands or set several bowls on a cake stand.
- Set out a variety of small knifes and serving spoons. And add a stack of small plates for guests.
- Make your bar even more enjoyable for guests by adding labels so they know what each ingredient is. If you’ve got time, set up a chalkboard or black foam core board by the bruschetta station and include a few “recipe” ideas to get everyone started. You might even want to set out chalk or markers and invite guests to write down their own creations for other guests. Get it all going with simple “formulas” like this:
- toast + bleu cheese + berries + honey
- toast + pesto + prosciutto
- toast + chevre + marmalade
- toast + cream cheese + jam
The possibilities are endless! Come up with your own ideas and get additional inspiration with our list of 29 gourmet toast recipes. Then invite everyone to get busy at the bruschetta bar.
Throughout the evening, you’ll want to watch the bar and refresh ingredients as needed. But other than a little tidying of the party table, you get to take the night off! This idea is about to become your easiest night of entertaining ever.