Casual Cocktails, Hassle-Free Hors D’oeuvres

House Beautiful
I had a few people over for cocktails last week, which is a feat in itself considering the size of my apartment, and I got so many wonderful compliments about the presentation of the hors d’oeuvres.  Let me just start by saying that we are talking about pita chips and hummus, brie and Carrs water crackers, and crudite!–I think that it is possible to make ANYTHING, even something as simple as hummus and pita chips, look fabulous as long as you have the right dishes and a cohesive scheme with your platters.
Roberta Roller Rabbit
For me, it all starts with Roberta.  I think by now you all know how much I adore Roberta Roller Rabbit and sing the praises of the brand–so I will refrain from doing it again now!  I always use her prints as a base for any food presentation: either a table cloth, a single placemat, or cocktail napkins–her patterns add just the right amount of pizazz! 
It is almost pathetic how absolutely simple my “formula” is, but it works!  For me, the next step is CB2 White Square Dinnerware.  It is heavy, almost to the point of being indestructible, and its square shape makes it just slightly different than a typical round white dish.  The best part about these dishes is the price!  The dinner plates are just $4.95, and they are 10.5″ square, which makes them a great size for not only dinner but serving trays for hors d’oeuvres.  The square platter in this collection is 13.5″ square and is great for larger food presentations–last year at Christmas I did a whole smoked salmon with all the fixings on this platter and it was fabulous. 
I love the platter and the plates, but my favorite pieces in this collection are the mini pieces–the mini appetizer plate and the mini bowl (pictured here).  You have no idea how many uses you will find for these mini pieces, and at a cost of just $0.95, they are well worth it.  As shown in this picture from the CB2 website, mini bowls are great for olives, dips, spreads, discarded pistachio shells … just about anything.  I also love using them in the kitchen when I am cooking to hold pre-measured ingredients.  The mini appetizer plates are also great, because when you have a cocktail party, you can just put out a stack of those instead of napkins, and you will end up with less trash to throw away! 
I also love the Quatro Platters, also from CB2.  They are great because they have essentially no rim, so you can pile your apps right to the edge.  They work amazingly well for cheese platters for just this reason, because there is no awkward cutting angle.  I have the medium platter, pictured above with the spoons, which was only $3.95.  Absolutely unbeatable.  And these trays are so slim, they fit in kitchens with very little storage space (like mine) quite efficiently.  
And if you are feeling a bit more daring than I usually am after a day at the library, then I would definitely try Martha Stewart’s Hors D’oeuvres Handbook.  I own this book, and it is huge!-and filled with ideas for making your own fancy hors d’oeuvres.  The canape photos are quite beautiful.  
House Beautiful
The most wonderful thing about white plates, is that they go with absolutely everything!  They can be very simple, but that’s why I like to dress them up with tablecloths or napkins from Roberta Roller Rabbit!  Here Victoria Amory takes the same concept, with clean white dishes and a fun tablecloth.  White plates will never go out of style, and when you break one, you can always easily replace it.  The most important thing about having friends over for casual cocktails is to have fun, and don’t stress.  Everyone will have a blast, regardless of what platter you are using for your brie. 

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  • Dear Lacquered Life:

    Thank you so much for liking the table setting I did for House Beautiful. I am so flattered.

    The tablecloth is from ZARA Home and only available in Europe. I bought it in Madrid.

    Thank you for mentioning me! Can I put your blog on my favorite list? I would LOVE to.

  • Victoria!
    You are so welcome, and thank you for writing in! It is such a beautiful table setting. I absolutely love the tablecloth–I’m so disappointed that I can’t get it in the US. Yes, please put my blog on your favorites list, I am so flattered.

  • Can I just say that, having been at said gathering, these little white plates WERE amazing. I think I commented several times on the way that the apps were arranged, and it all came down to the plates. Pretty sure I need to look into getting a set for myself!