How to make the perfect party food

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The festive season is in full swing and no party is complete without a generous supply of delicious nibbles to help the fizz go down nicely.

With the help of new Dorling Kindersley book Canapes (by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Eric Treuille), we show you how to prep and plan the perfect food for your bash. Plus some tasty canapes recipes.

Whether it’s a New Year’s Eve bash or New Year’s Day gathering, chances are you’ll have some entertaining to do over the next week period.

And what better way to delight your guests than by serving up platters of canapes that look pretty, tickle the taste buds and, crucially, are a practical way to feed a crowd?

In the new edition of her book Canapes, Victoria Blashford-Snell writes: “Serving canapes to your guests is a fun way of showing off - not only your organisational skills, but your knowledge of cooking and of pairing up assorted flavours, including different influences from other cuisines.”

Add to this the fact that there’s minimal washing-up to do - “All your guests require is a drink, a cocktail napkin, and a warm welcome,” she points out - and you have the recipe for a smooth New Year bash.

Here’s a summary of some of the author’s tips for making your canapes party go with a swing...

n As a general rule, allow five pieces per guest for pre-lunch or dinner drinks. Allow six per guest for first-course canapes. Go for 10 pieces for each guest at a drinks party. If it’s a canape-only evening event, allow 14 pieces per guest.

n When large groups are involved, allow for more canapes per person as some people may bring another guest along.

n If you’re playing host to different age groups, try and cater for all tastes with a combination of hot and cold canapes, including classic recipes as well as more adventurous ones.

n A mix of poultry, fish, seafood, red meat and vegetables is a good idea. Don’t go overboard on fried options among your hot canapes, and include some gluten-free and vegetarian choices in your cold ones.

n For a stress-free event, prepare ahead where possible. Lots of canape bases will keep well if made in advance and stored properly, so include some of these options. Test out new recipes beforehand so they don’t go wrong on the day.

nInclude a nod to the season in your menu where possible.

n When putting together your canapes, be generous with the filling but be careful not to overfill your bases as this can make them tricky to eat.

n Choose platters that can be passed around guests easily, and be creative with presentation. Textured materials like coarse sea salt and banana leaves can jazz up a plain platter. Nightlight candles in small pots look good too.

n To avoid mess, use a fresh bowl every time you need to top up dips, and have a stash of cocktail napkins and separate bowl for cocktail sticks in your armoury.

n These canape recipes from the book will go down a treat at any winter party...

n Canapes by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Eric Treuille is published by DK, priced £14.99. Available now. Visit