Z and I love to entertain small groups of friends. Sometimes we host full course dinners, but more often than not we will have a board game night complete with drinks and “grown-up” snacks that don’t require additional plates or even two hands. Since these nights can be rather impromptu, there are several items that I consider essential and therefore have on hand to make any occasion a party.
1. Bar mix
Keeping a bag of mixed nuts or a combination of products to make your own (my favorites: salted peanuts and wasabi peas) is a way to provide your friends a snack that can easily be taken by the handful.
2. Crackers or chips
Depending on the hunger level of you and your guests, you may opt for a filling cheese and cracker plate or a simple fare of chips and salsa or dip.
3. Sweets with a shelf life
Even if your night never involved a full meal, it’s always a good idea to end the night with something sweet. A bowl of gummy candies, chocolates, or store-bought cookies can curb your friends’ sweet tooth without having to turn on the oven or run to the bakery.
4. Olive oil & balsamic vinegar
There is nothing easier than making a quick mix of olive oil, vinegar, and dried herbs for dipping fresh bread. Forego the store run for a French loaf by requesting that your friends pick one up on their way over (since they are bound to ask, “May we bring anything?”).
5. Simple charcuterie board items
Charcuterie provides finger-friendly healthy fats and carbs to satiate serious snacking needs. Our go-to board includes jarred mixed olives, two cheeses (one hard, one soft), cured meat (packaged salami has considerable shelf life), and fresh grapes.
Chips and salsa is my favorite food combination of all time. So, I only presume everyone feels the same way and is just as pleased with having a large bowl of each.
7. Flavored sparkling water
Even before becoming pregnant, I have considered sparking water a go-to entertaining beverage. It’s a refreshing transition from a beer or cocktail and can easily be ‘fancied’ up with fresh lime or grenadine for your designated drivers.
8. Beer to match the weather
The beer we keep in stock changes throughout the year. During the cooler months, we typically go for heavier ales such as reds or IPAs; while in the summer we keep lighter, fruit enhanced beers that stand up to the heat.
9. Crowd favorite board games
We have an abundant amount of board games that are great for two to multiple players. Games that are fast-paced and creative are our favorites to play with friends. Our current party favorite, not pictured, Telestrations: After Dark — a seemingly innocent game that quickly becomes downright absurd.
Bonus: Fresh flowers and a go-to playlist to liven up your living space.