Every year I celebrate Christmas with both sides of my family on different days. This year, my father’s side has a larger group than normal so they are doing things a little differently. Instead of having a sit-down meal, everyone is bringing an hors d’oeuvre or finger food so the family can graze, while we play games, open gifts, and mingle. As the foodie of the group, I know they are expecting me to bring the showstoppers and I don’t want to disappoint, so I am planning my options well in advance.

For starters, I have to remember that I am traveling with this food, so I can’t bring anything that will spoil or fall apart en route. When thinking of appetizers, presentation is important and it also has to be easy to eat with your hands or on a small plate. However, for me, flavor is the key, so that’s what I’m going for. Here are some recipes I plan on making that I hope might help you as you decide what you might bring to all of your holiday festivities this year.

Grilled Shrimp with Rémoulade


I’m from California, but now that I live in New Orleans, my family has pegged me as the token “Cajun” girl. Even though they are completely off the mark, I want to give them a little taste of our cuisine here in Cresent City - and that involves shrimp and Rémoulade. This recipe is easy because I can grill the shrimp in advance and then pop them in the oven for a few minutes when I arrive at the party just to heat them up.


Since I work in food, I feel obligated to get a little fancy for this shindig - but shhhhh! This recipe is really easy! Although the ingredients are fancy, it’s super easy to prepare and is a great finger food with decadent flavors.


This dip is a staple at my family parties and I know I will hear complaining if I don’t bring it. My recipe is similar to this one but I use full-fat cream cheese and sour cream and I leave out the mozzarella. I also add a hint of red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.


Given that this side of the family is from the South (West Tennessee), I know this dip will take them back to their roots and will also wow them. I friend of mine and fellow co-worker from Birmingham made it at a potluck luncheon and I have been drooling over the thought of it ever since. She lightened the amount of mayo and added a little more red pepper flakes and Worcestershire. I know it may sound scary, but trust me, it will become the star of the party and everyone will be asking you for the recipe.

For more great appetizer ideas, here are some of my favorites: