Make Ahead Appetizers

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Anyone who's hosted a dinner party knows the task can be overwhelming. Make appetizers ahead and save yourself a little time and stress the day of your event.

Cheese and Crackers

Cheese and crackers claim top spot for a classic and easy, make-ahead starter. Cheddar, fontina, brie--the sky's the limit. For a bolder statement, roll a log of goat cheese in chopped nuts and herbs or wrap a wheel of brie in pastry dough and bake until gooey in the center. Serve with oat cakes, Melba toast or Ritz crackers. Grapes or apple slices add a nice touch to the presentation.

Spreads and Breads

Make a bruchetta with chopped tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil. Pesto made with basil or cilantro, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts also impresses as a spread. Hummus tastes delicious, yet you only need cooked garbanzo beans, olive oil and lemon juice to make a basic version. These spreads can be made ahead, refrigerated up to a few days and served with crusty bread or veggies.

Shrimp and Sauce

Pull cooked shrimp out of the freezer the night before your party. Serve thawed shrimp with lemon slices and cocktail sauce for a simple, yet delicious treat for you and your guests.

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