Recipe: New Year's Eve buffet appetizers and finger foods

by Julie Snyder

New Years BuffetThe year is quickly coming to a close. Send it out on a high note with a New Year's Eve Buffet.

Whether you'll have a crowd or just a few; families and kids or an adult only event, food takes a central spot. Start out the evening with light snacks and around 10:30 p.m. bring out the hearty, main dish.

Don't forget the platter of noisemakers, hats, tiaras and boas. People can people grab their favorite items to help them ring in the year.

New Year's Eve buffet menu

Will you have kids at the event? Just couples? The whole family? Pick and choose from the buffet ideas below for a spread to please any crowd.

Hearty, filling finger foods

Coleslaw and Pulled Pork Mini Hoagies
Buffalo Chicken Tenders
Cheesy Sausage Biscuit Balls

Chips and other crunchies

Popcorn with toppers
Hummus and Pita Bread Cups
No-Guilt Seven Layer Dip
Cheddar and Bacon Cheese Ball
Basil Pesto Dip

Tasty tidbits to break out throughout the evening:

Cheese Crusted Zucchini Strips with Hearty Marinara Sauce
Polenta Bites
Cream Cheese and Olive Penguins
Festive Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Kebabs

Sweet treats

Orange chocolate shortbread cookies
No Bake Rum Balls
Fruity Kebabs

Family-friendly drinks

Berry Lemonade Iced Tea
Mocktails and cocktails

Countdown to New Year's Eve

10. Shop till the ball drops. You won't need to shop that long or that hard, but do go through your menu, make a list of everything you can buy in advance and a second list of last minute purchases such as produce.

9. Take those offers to bring something. When someone asks, find out what they can bring or make a suggestion. Jot that down on your menu.

8. Make ahead what you can. Cook the pork, make the dips and cut fruits and vegetables up for trays and for recipes.

7. Put the pieces together. Mock up your buffet arrangement. You can draw a sketch or you go as far as placing decorations, getting out the serving dishes and "filling" each with a note telling its contents.

6. Get a good night's sleep! Put your plans away, soak in the tub, relax with a book or choose a favorite stress reliever.

5. Prepare your last minute treats. Put together the last minute dishes.

4. Put out ice and the drinks. You might prefer to fill glasses with ice cubes or provide an ice bucket.

3. Plop it on the table. Then step back and give yourself a pat on the back. You might want to take a picture before the hungry horde attacks!

2. Get your guests into the action. Have a mini-hoagie bar with toppings like pulled pork coleslaw, cold cuts, sliced cheese, condiments, olives, mushrooms, tomato, peppers and romaine.

3. Mix and mingle. You'll have a while before anything needs refilled or replaced. Enjoy your party.

2. Check the buffet, and refill or refresh dishes if needed.

1. Toast in the New Year! Grab a noise maker and get your glasses ready.

Do you have a traditional dish that you serve on New Year's Eve?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.