During my early years of entertaining I took pride in planning a 5-6 course meal. I say pride, because that is when I was in to: “impressing,” and unnecessarily so. (You can read more about this in my book, The Reluctant Entertainer.)

Here’s what I take into consideration when deciding whether to serve appetizers or not:
– the cost of the meal
– how I’m delegating the entrees
– the amount of food
– the time frame of the evening
– how many people are coming
– if wine is being served

Appetizers aren’t always essential, only because we are trying to eat LESS food these days. But they can still be served, and a “light” appetizer is nice. But they don’t have to be elaborate. Having a little something to munch on (like nuts or chips and a dip or crackers and cheese) is perfect for this course.

When our friends came for dinner last weekend, I didn’t put much thought into what I served because I already had the ingredients.

To be prepared, keep these ingredients on hand:
– cheese
– crackers
– fruit
– nuts
– chutney (Harry & David chutney is always stocked in my pantry)

With a simple display and some small plates and cocktail napkins, create an intimate setting and ENJOY a few bites, but I say let’s save our efforts for the main meal, right?

Do you think appetizers are essential, or can you do without?

(I served a Mozzarella Log Wrapped In Prosciutto and Honey Crisp apples with crackers.)

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