Planning an evening filled with sweet treats is both easier and more difficult than a traditional dinner party: you don't have to worry about overcooking the turkey, but you have to provide enough lightness and variety to keep your guests from seriously overindulging. Provide an assortment of balanced, not-too-rich options for your guests and your party will be a unforgettable hit.
Greet your guests with a glass of warmed wine sprinkled with cinnamon -- in the winter -- or a glass of homemade lemonade with a slice of lemon -- in the summer. Set out bowls of miniature gourmet truffles and candies, along with small bowls of fresh seasonal berries with toothpicks. Add a bowl of melted milk and white chocolate for dipping the fruit. Serve a bowl of toasted pecans or cashews coated with honey and cinnamon. Remind guests that the evening is just beginning and not to fill up too fast.
Early Party Nibbles
As guests arrive, set out trays of a variety of treats. Fruit-filled pastries and tarts, cream puffs, miniature canolis and eclairs are all possibilities for whetting your guests' sweet tooth without overpowering the palate. Don't forget to supply several varieties of popular cookies, such as old-fashioned chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, sugar, peanut butter and snickerdoodle. Provide a tray of cheese, crackers and fruit, or some chips and ranch dip for guests who need a break from sweets early on. Serve champagne or sweet dessert wine, such as Moscato, to bring out the distinctive flavors of each treat.
Move on to the first part of the main event. Set up an ice cream sundae buffet and offer toppings like sprinkles, chocolate chips, fruit syrup and bits of popular cookies. Have fat-free frozen yogurt on hand for calorie-conscious guests. For lactose-intolerant guests, set up a s'mores station with brown-sugar-and-cinnamon graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate bars and a mini stove for roasting the marshmallows. Give your s'mores a fun twist by offering flavored marshmallows or varieties of chocolate. Because these are classic childhood desserts, serve them with fruit punch or soda.
Top It Off
Finish big with desserts that your guests will adore. Try a decadent red velvet cake and a German chocolate cake. Serve fruity parfaits with alternating layers of fresh fruit slices, delicious flavored yogurt and almonds. At the end, break out your special treat: mini molten chocolate cakes bursting with chocolate sauce, one for each guest. Use colored icing to personalize each cake with guests' names. Don't forget the beverages -- hot chocolate with mini marshmallows, coffee and tea should accompany your finale.