As a licensed Realtor who's hosted countless open houses, I've learned to never underestimate the value of good finger food. Delicious treats break the ice and serve as conversation starters. Of course, you can order platters from a deli, but you'll make a lasting impression with your own creations.
Keep it Simple
The key to successful open house finger food is to use high-quality ingredients and put them together in tasty combinations that easy to prepare and create little or no mess when eaten. You want to spend time with your visitors and not cleaning up.
Plan for a range of treats from sweet to savory, vegetarian and meaty to accommodate different tastes. One platter of each category is sufficient.
Visit a farmers market to find fresh and attractive produce, get inspired and have fun with ingredients. Stock up on attractive paper napkins, small paper plates and cups.
Old Favorites with New Twists
Adapt to the season. During summer, prepare fruit platters with cooled chunks of different melons, apple slices and other seasonal fruits that don't require much peeling or preparing. Serve them with a chocolate or caramel dip.
Winter warm-ups that are always appreciated are hot cocoa or hot-spiced apple cider. Prepare those ahead and keep them in thermal dispensers. Fill a bowl with marshmallows and have some whipped cream ready to go. Fresh baked banana bread goes well with those drinks and will add an irresistible smell to your house.
Buy international or artisan cheeses. Instead of traditional cheddar, serve a chunk of aged white cheddar. Check out new goat cheeses, herbed Gouda or a mild feta, and don't forget brie. Add walnuts, almonds, figs, strawberries, grapes and dried apricots to the platter. Keep an assortment of crackers in a decorative basket nearby.
Prepare turkey meatballs. Shape small rounds out of seasoned ground turkey and bake them in a muffin pan until golden and crisp on the outside. Skewer on a toothpick and serve with a barbeque and a yogurt garlic dip.
Get creative. Anything that does not fall apart can be skewered. Some easy mix and match bites are shrimp, cocktail tomatoes, ham cubes, pineapple, gherkins, pickled onions, artichoke hearts, smoked salmon, fingerling potatoes and chicken breast cubes.
Instead of the traditional veggie tray with ranch dip, try a Middle Easter- inspired creation with pita chips, hummus, olives, feta, cucumber-tomato skewers and a garlic dip.
Open House Day
Set up all the goodies in a central place. If there is an open kitchen, use the counter or put up a small table in a strategic place. Decorate with fresh flower. Make sure there is a trash bin within reach as well as moist towelettes. Bake cookies from readymade dough right before guests arrive to provide an atmosphere someone will fall in love with.
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Beatrix Israel was born and raised in Germany and now lives in the Hawaiian Islands where she writes and paints. After a career in the travel industry she found her passion for writing more than 15 years ago and quickly became a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines in Europe. She has been writing online professionally since 2009, contributing to Hairfinder.com and other websites.