Be prepared for guests and have your larder stocked with quick snacks and appetizers. Pulling together an impromptu snack tray will be quick and easy with these 12 snack tray ideas.
We like fun food around here. We like snacky food. We like to eat fun, snacky food with friends and neighbors.
And sometimes, especially around the holidays, friends and neighbors might drop by unexpectedly. I love a spontaneous little party. I love it even more if I have some snacks to offer my guests. There’s just something about being prepared for the unexpected and being able to extend hospitality without freaking out.
Am I right?
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting a weekly “hospitality reminder” to help you gear up for the delicious holiday season. This week’s project (in addition to dealing with Thanksgiving) is to stock up on snacks.
You already know that the snacky dinner is one of my favorites. I plan for it on a weekly basis, usually Sundays because I like to have one day to rest from kitchen labors.
The snacky dinner model, aka charcuterie or cheese platter, also works really well for an impromptu meal with guests. Lay out a bunch of different things and you’re set for all kinds of makeshift “entertaining”.
(These cute little flags are part of the Instant Holiday Brunch Kit.)
A dozen snack tray ideas
Here are twelve snack tray ideas to consider for your holiday entertaining. Consider adding the following items to your grocery list this week to stash into the pantry, fridge, or freezer:
- Crackers, rice cakes, plantain chips, pretzels – You can easily snatch these up on sale and store them in the cupboard. They’re shelf-stable, but be sure to check the best-by dates.
- Olives, pickles, and roasted peppers – There are so many delicious and creative commercial pickles to load up on at the holidays. Buy several different varieties: spicy, sweet, stuffed, etc. They make for a quick relish tray that looks like something fancy.
- Tortilla, potato, or pita chips – You can’t really go wrong with chips, can you? Be sure to read ingredients labels and make sure you’ve got some gluten-free options on hand.
- Nuts and seeds – Likely you’ll find some good sales on these items over the coming weeks. Depending on their dates, consider stocking up with several months’ worth. If you’ve got a little extra time, make these Maple Spiced Pepitas and Almonds for a fun addition to your snack tray.
- Hummus, salsa, or guacamole fixings – I love buying a box of the mini pods of guacamole and hummus. These are great for longterm storage in the fridge so you don’t have to worry about using up a large container. Keep salsa fixings on hand. You can whip up a fresh batch in just minutes.
- A variety of cheeses – Small packages of fancy cheeses will stay good for awhile in your fridge unopened. Load up on small wheels of Brie and chunks of other cheeses like Emmenthal, Gruyere, Havarti, or Cheddar. Small pods of soft spreadable herbed cheeses usually go on great sale this time of year.
- Small packages of different deli meats – I usually buy several different packages of these at ALDI where they’re packaged in 6- or 8- ounce containers. They’re affordable and easy to keep on hand for impromptu snack trays.
- Brie and a can of cranberry sauce – This Cranberry-Basil Baked Brie comes together super quickly and tastes delicious! If you prefer Homemade Cranberry Sauce, know that it freezes really well. Package it in 1/2 cup portions so this recipe can come together quickly.
- Vegetable dippers – I’m not sure you can ever have too many vegetables at the holidays. Keep a variety of veggies on hand to add to your snack tray. I find that baby carrots, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, celery, and bell pepper seem to keep really well when refrigerated. I just refresh our supply as we eat them up. The grape tomatoes tend to have better flavor than other tomatoes in winter and go well in all kinds of bruschetta and tomato salads.
- Frozen spinach, yogurt, and cream cheese – This Healthier Spinach Dip is a nice addition to your veggie dippers and crackers.
- Apples and clementines – These are fall and winter fruits that go on sale and keep well under refrigeration.
- Sliced baguette – You may not want to head to the bakery every time a friend stops by, but if you keep a bag of sliced baguette in the freezer, you’ll be set for appetizer toasts at a moment’s notice.
What do YOU add to your snack tray?
Speaking of beautiful meals…. Want to make the holiday season a little brighter this year?
Ease your seasonal stress by planning in advance how you will handle your holiday kitchen.
Take the Celebrate Simply workshop and get ready to jingle all the way.
Learn more here.
Originally published December 8, 2011. Updated November 18, 2017.