Your halls are decked. You have a good start on your shopping. It’s the “drop by” guests that have you worried. During the holidays, when friends are more likely to stop by spur of the moment, is also when we are most strapped for time. So, what do you serve these impromptu guests when your prep time is limited?

After years of being a “glutton for punishment,” as my husband would say—spending hours making intricate appetizers and cookies that I didn’t even want to eat—I realized that a few, simple, no-cook appetizers can be just as delicious and filling.

My advice to you: head to your favorite grocery store and stock up on a variety of locally jarred jams and chutney, pickled vegetables, crackers, olives, cheeses, salami, hummus, nuts, chocolate, small cookies, and wine. You can mix and match these ingredients in endless combinations. With a little bit of thought behind the presentation (a few sprigs of fresh herbs always work well), your guests will be thrilled with whatever assortment of noshes you set out for them to nibble on.

Here are 10 ideas to get you started:

  1. Pita chips slathered with hummus and topped with a strip of roasted red pepper.
  1. A bit of Brie and a spoonful of chutney (such as cranberry/apple) on sliced baguette rounds.
  1. A pimento stuffed olive, a wedge of salami and a cube of cheese, stacked on toothpicks.
  1. Fill small drinking glasses with pickled anything: beans, okra, carrots, onions, cucumbers, asparagus or mushrooms.
  1. Endive leaves sprinkled with pear bits, crumbled blue cheese and chopped walnuts.
  1. Flatbread crackers topped with goat cheese, smoked salmon and a few thyme leaves.
  1. Little bowls of nuts: dry-roasted almonds, Marcona almonds or pistachios alongside little bowls of dried fruit: blueberries, cherries, raisins, apricots, etc.
  1. A small plate of thinly sliced Honeycrisp apples (these apples don’t tend to brown when left out) paired with a hunk of white cheddar and a cheese slicer.
  1. A festive plate with an assortment of bite-sized holiday cookies, such as shortbread and wafer-thin gingersnaps. These can be kept in the freezer and quickly de-thawed at room temperature.
  1. A small bowl of peppermint bark or dark chocolate covered almonds.
Carrie Cook Minns
1859's Home Grown Chef | + posts