How to Plan a Finger Food Party

by Connie Barnett Dowell ; Updated September 28, 2017

Hosting a party, while fun, can take a lot of time, effort and money. A simple solution is to plan a finger foods party. This can cut down on cooking time and expense. Then you can have more fun and spend more time entertaining your guests.

Pick a date and time for your party. Choose a time that is convenient for you and that you think will be good for your guests. For a finger food party, an evening time, like 8:00 p.m. or later, will allow guests to have dinner before the party.

Make a budget. Decide how much you want to spend on your party and apportion amounts of money to different expenses such as food, decoration, or drinks.

Draw up a guest list and issue invitations. You can mail them, email, call or speak to the guests in person. Make sure not to invite more people than you can afford to feed. Food and Wine Magazine suggests allowing for eight finger foods per person. Be sure to tell the guests of the time and date of the party. If you choose to host a potluck party, let the guests know and tell them how much food to bring. Let them know that this is a finger foods party. You can also use the terms tapas, hors d’oerves or cocktail party (as long as cocktails will be served).

Find recipes and buy ingredients. Make sure not to attempt recipes that are beyond your culinary expertise or take a very long time to make. Try to vary your recipes to give your guests options and account for allergies or dietary restrictions. According to Better Homes and Gardens, fresh items and foods with a lot of flavor can make great finger foods. Buy drinks. If you serve alcohol, provide nonalcoholic options as well.

Tidy up your house. If you wish, you can decorate using special tablecloths, streamers, balloons or other items.

Cook. Make sure to do this two or three hours before the party, or even the day before. If needed, you can reheat your dishes in the oven right before the party begins.

Put on some background music and greet your guests as they arrive.


  • Themed parties can be a lot of fun. If you choose to have a theme, choose this theme early on in the planning process. Try to incorporate your theme in the food, music and decor. Include your theme on your invitation.

    For potluck parties, you may choose to ask each guest to inform you of the dish he will bring or send around an email as a dish sign-up sheet. Otherwise, on the day of the party there might be multiple trays of the same type of food.

Photo Credits

  • Jeanne Studio/Demand Media

About the Author

Connie Barnett Dowell graduated from Valdosta State University with a Master of Library and Information Science. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Georgia. In addition to her writing, Barnett Dowell is a college writing tutor.