Christmas is a week away, and that makes the next seven days full of shopping, wrapping, baking, and partying! It's easy to feel the pressure to put out amazing food for your holiday guests that looks like Martha Stewart herself came down the chimney and spent three sleepless days and nights preparing it, but it's absolutely okay to take a simpler route. The trick for a truly winning spread is to present treats that your guests will love (and admire!) but which don't leave you so pressed and stressed that by the time you get to the party you'd honestly rather just go take a nap than socialize with family and friends. For some ideas on how to achieve that magical balance, check out some of the suggestions below:
This clever "Ring of Piggies Wreath" featured on Taste of Home is basically just a creative arrangement of pigs in a blanket with some sprigs of rosemary to make the whole thing look like a wreath:
This delectable cranberry brie biscuit dip from Delish combines brie, cheddar, salt-crusted biscuits, and the age-old holiday favorite cranberry sauce. Even though it looks like something from a fancy restaurant, it takes less than ten minutes to prep and just twenty to bake....sure to wow your guests!
These clever "Ho-Ho-Ho Hotdogs" Christmas Stockings from The Peach Kitchen are just hot dog pieces topped with cream cheese, parsley, and red pepper (you do need access to extra red hot dogs or be willing to color your own, but the adorable result is worth the effort!)
Another cute idea is to shape your favorite cheese ball into a Christmas tree like this one on The Girl Who Ate Everything using pine nuts for the string of lights, chopped yellow and red bell pepper for ornaments, and a carved piece of cheese for a star:
If you love unique cheese balls but don't want to mess with sculpting yours into a tree, consider something like these mini cheese ball bites from Tastes Better From Scratch with tiny cheese balls individually rolled in cranberries, nuts, or green onion with a pretzel stick for easy (and tasty) handling.
Butter-dipped apples, flaky pastry, cinnamon... they all come together in these delectable Apple Pie Bites from The Blond Cook (and the best part is, they're extremely easy to make but will make your friends think you spent all day on them-- see a how-to video here).
If you love the spiciness of gingerbread and the creamy richness of cheesecake, give this gingerbread cheesecake dip from Food Folks and Fun a try. It only takes about five minutes to make and will keep for a few days in the fridge if you need something you can make ahead of time. Serve with graham crackers and watch as it disappears before your eyes!
A great treat to make with the kids are these super cute cheesecake strawberry "Santas" from Raining Hot Coupons. Piping the filling will take some practice, but any mistakes are sure to end up as delicious discards!
These Reindeer Treats from Lil' Luna are a simple combination of pretzels, Rolo candies, and red Sixlets (you can also substitute red M-n-Ms in a pinch) but are so fun they're sure to have guests talking:
The holidays are a time for celebrating all the good things in your life, so brainstorm on how you can get creative and have fun with your party food while still allowing time and brain space to actually enjoy your celebration and all the people joining you there-- after all, regardless of what you serve, after the plates are scraped and the guests have said goodbye, it's the time with them that will have been the best treat of all.