Preparing appetizers for a large group may seem like a daunting task. Plan for six to seven appetizers per person for each hour of a party, according to Meals Matter, a website operated by the Dairy Council of California. For a party of 50, this translates to 300 to 350 appetizers per hour. For a 2 hour party, expect to prepare 600 to 700 appetizers. This quantity may seem overwhelming, but focus on preparing easy, time-effective -- and delicious -- appetizers to eliminate stress. Enlist the help of your children or other family members to save even more time.
Serve savory or spicy dips, like spinach dip, black bean dip, hummus, ranch dip, guacamole or salsa alongside chips, vegetables, pita bread, pretzels or breadsticks. Make or buy a sweet dip to serve alongside cut up pieces of fruit, like strawberries, melon, apples or pineapple. Dips are easy to make in large quantities and come in flavors to please just about everybody on your guest list. In addition, they can be prepared in advance. Line up bowls of dips next to dipping items, and provide a serving spoon with each dip so guests can place dip on their plates, rather than dipping into the bowl.
Cheese platters require minimal preparation and no cooking. Create a platter with several cheese varieties, such as sharp cheddar, brie, Swiss or Gouda, or stick with a single variety. Pair with crackers, French bread or pita bread, and include some fruit, such as grapes or apples. Add pepperoni or salami slices for the meat lovers at the party.
A single loaf of bread, which contains about 20 slices, can yield 80 finger sandwiches, and when it comes to sandwich fillings, the possibilities are endless. Choose chicken salad, egg salad and tuna salad, or go classic and prepare cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese. Deli meats, like turkey, ham or roast beef, also make delicious options. To prevent finger sandwiches from getting soggy, spread the bread with a thin layer of butter or cream cheese before adding your fillings. This helps protect the bread from moisture and keeps your sandwiches tasting fresh.
Meatballs appetizers are simple to eat and stay warm in a slow-cooker. Prepare and cook meatballs in advance, then freeze them until the day of the party. Or buy prepackaged, frozen meatballs and simply heat them up on the day of the party. Heat up the meatballs in a slow-cooker with sweet and sour sauce, Alfredo sauce or traditional marinara sauce. Place a cup of toothpicks next to the slow cooker to make self-service simple.