Last December, my family started a new tradition: a holiday pub crawl! We met for heavy hors d'oeuvres at a cousin's house, then afterward took a tour of the neighborhood's best bars. It's a casual but festive style of soirée, and since everyone always has lots of parties to attend, friends and family members can stop by for one drink or take part in the entire crawl. When planning the first leg, offer a good quantity of appetizers with an assortment of textures and flavors: serve something cheesy, something meaty, and something seafood. Baked camembert is sophisticated and colorful when topped with sun-dried tomatoes; pair with crackers and bread.
Meatballs are a classic holiday bite, but update them by using ground lamb and exotic spices rather than the same old pork-beef mixture. Tuna tartar on thick-cut potato chips is addictive and irresistible. Head to the store for the rest of the menu; pick up your favorite crudités with ranch dip, charcuterie, nuts, or olives. To check out the suggested recipes, keep reading.