Throughout the year, we host lots of dinners and parties as well visiting restaurants all over for both work and pleasure. When it comes to celebrating New Year’s Eve, we keep it casual, festive, and low-key. We invite a small group of friends for a wine tasting party with each guest bringing a few bottles to share.

You can make the wine tasting as easy or as complex as you would like, but for New Year’s Eve, we ask guests to bring their favorite full-bodied red wine. We chose appetizers that can be served without a lot of attention so everyone can enjoy the party. Speaking of which, when you put it all together think of the five senses that drive a successful event: Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste and Touch. You want to make sure everything entices all five senses from the moment your guests walk in the door until the ball drops.

Here are some of our favorite recipes you can (mostly) make in advance, arrange on a buffet, and let people serve themselves.

Italian Beef Stew

Italian Beef Stew can be made the day before and reheated just before serving. It’s easy to prepare and becomes more flavorful if you refrigerate overnight.

Potato Pancakes

Potato pancakes are an important part of many cultures especially in Europe. We took the traditional approach and added to it to make these a taste explosion.

Muffuletta Sandwich

Muffuletta sandwiches are packed with meats (mortadella, ham, salami) and provolone cheese, Mediterranean tapenade all served on soft brioche rolls. You can assemble hours in advance, store wrapped, and add tapenade just before serving. We slice into bite sized pieces and put on a platter.

Antipasti / Antipasto

Everyone loves a charcuterie board, but we expand to an antipasta/antipasto platter so there is something for everyone. The preparation is easy, and the platter can stay out throughout your party for guests to graze and nibble between drinks and cocktails.

Toasted Cheese Sandwich

This tasty onion cheese buttery sandwich takes just about 6 minutes to cook. This was made in the kitchen in South Carolina with a Breville panini press.

For many years, we have been visiting London and never miss a stop at the city’s famous Borough Market. This open air market brings you back to the Dickens’ era and is even more spectacular around the holidays. You can eat and drink all day trying food and drink at the hundreds of speciality vendors and it’s fully open Wednesday through Saturday. The one bite we get each time is the tasty ,toasted cheese sandwich from Kappacasein’s right at the entrance of the market. Their combination of onions and cheeses makes for an amazing snack. Of course, if you cannot get to London, you can always try ourAmerican version with cheddar and gruyere cheeses along with same mix of garlic and onions.

Greek Stuffed Camembert Cheese

Stuffing Camembert cheese with spinach, feta and other flavors and baking it in pastry dough is a great appetizer for a party especially paired with a full-bodied red or crisp white wine.

Beef Carpaccio

Beef carpaccio can be easy make if you have a good local butcher who will slice the filet so all you have to do is lay it out and add all of the delicious toppings including shaved parmesan, capers, red onion, arugula, and a tasty homemade sauce similar to a Caesar dressing.

Lamb Chili

You can make this stew the day before your party and heat it up when your guests are hungry. The trick is to have a robust toppings bar with the not so usual suspects such as feta cheese instead of cheddar, pita chips instead of tortillas, and so on.

Claridge’s Mini Pizzas

The late night menu at London’s famed Claridge’s hotel includes a pizza made with puff pastry and is always a hit at 3:00 a.m. This delicious appetizer has become a party staple over the years and one of the most popular appetizers on the site. You can find top-quality puff pastry at nearly every supermarket.

Grilled Shrimp with Turmeric Sauce

The grilled shrimp marinated in mustard and parmesan served with turmeric sauce is a great appetizer packed with new favors.

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