Right after you pick the date, party snack ideas are the first thing you should consider as you plan your next gathering. Why? Good food gets people talking. (Bad food does too, but that’s not what you want your parties to be remembered for.) Of course, music, decor, theme, and location all matter, but great party snacks can often make up for any shortcomings in the other categories.
Below, six delicious party snack ideas that will make hosting a pleasure, not a chore.
The croquembouche, a French dessert tower made from cream-filled choux pastry puffs, is a fantastic way to bring people together. (Especially people who love sweets!) Kim-Joy, the baker and author behind Baking With Kim-Joy, suggests adding an element of surprise by filling the puffs with different flavors of crème diplomat—a decadent mix of whipped cream and classic custard.
“It’s great because it’s one big cake, but eating it feels like snacking,” says Kim-Joy, whose Instagram account features adorable—and often animal-inspired—bite-size baked goods. You can kick the cuteness up a notch by turning the puffs into pigs, or as Kim-Joy calls them, Pigfiteroles.
For something buttery and fluffy, consider madeleines—small shell-shaped sponge cakes—or Kim-Joy’s take, which is panda-inspired. “I love my Pandaleines for a party snack,” she says. “Anything cute with a face puts people in a better mood and is a good talking point. It’s always good to have food that can start conversations and bring people together.” Watch her how-to video here.
Scones are a classic party snack for a tea or a garden picnic party. Of course, Kim-Joy prefers them when they’re green and smiling. “You can decorate scones as frogs,” she says. Use a standard scone recipe, but color the tops green and add balls of dough for eyes; stick-on edible eyeballs (added after they’re done baking) are the finishing touch. Says Kim-Joy: “These are fun—plus, you can make them with savory or sweet add-ins.” Hey, who doesn’t like having options?
The best part is, basic scones (here’s a starter recipe) can be made using ingredients you probably already have on hand: flour, salt, sugar, butter, milk, and baking powder. See the full how-to here.
You’ve probably tried fortune cookies, but have you ever tried making them? “I love the idea of making fortune cookies with customized messages. They’re surprisingly easy to make once you get used to the shaping,” says Kim-Joy. “They could even be wrapped up individually so that people could take one home with them.” A party snack and a party favor in one. Yes, please!
Crunchy Cauliflower Bites
According to Jessica Hylton Leckie, the photographer and plant-based home chef behind Jessica in the Kitchen, cauliflower is one of the most versatile party snack ingredients. Blend it into a creamy dip, use it to make a pizza base, or turn it into bite-size nuggets.
If you’re hosting a movie night, popcorn is a must-have party snack. Leckie has some ideas about shaking things up. “I love a great popcorn mix,” she says. “Serve up a pesto popcorn and a Cheesy Vegan Popcorn, as well as a classic plain buttery popcorn. It’s great for everyone to grab a bowl. We have a classic popcorn maker at home, and not only is it easy to use, but it also makes so much at once.” And hey, on nights when you’re not hosting guests, you’ll be happy to have an air-popper and popcorn kernels in your panty.
Originally Appeared on Glamour