The to-do list for holiday hosts seems to be a never-ending one, starting with planning, guest lists and preparation then ending with goodbyes and cleanup. The hours of work that go into a festive get-together are almost always worth it in the end, and family members surely appreciate the hospitality – especially when it comes to food.

When hosting for the holidays, it can be a challenge to accommodate all of your guests’ favorite tastes while factoring in dietary preferences and restrictions. Building out a balanced menu, like other parts of hosting, starts with devising a thought-out plan.

To help accomplish this task without cooking up personal dishes for everybody in the house, consider these simple tips:

  • Request that guests RSVP. Assuming you have a basic understanding of which friends and family members adhere to special diets, knowing exactly who is coming can be a major help before heading to the store.
  • Think back to past festivities. Try to remember which dishes were hits at last year’s party, and which ones were hardly touched. Maybe the appetizers that disappeared in a flash will be good ideas to repeat this year.
  • Create dishes that fit (almost) everyone. While you can’t control guests’ flavor preferences, it is possible to whip up snack trays, main courses, desserts and more that fit a multitude of dietary restrictions.
  • Add “warning” labels. Despite your best efforts, it can be nearly impossible to create foods every single person can enjoy. If you make a dish containing a common allergen, such as peanuts, simply place a card next to the bowl, tray, plate or pan that informs guests of the ingredients included.

Bacon, Baked Brie and Cranberry Holiday Melts

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Servings: 6

24        Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers, Sea Salt flavor

24        small slices Brie cheese

1/4       cup prepared cranberry sauce

2          slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Heat broiler to high and position rack in center of oven. Arrange crackers in single layer on foil-lined baking sheet.

Top each cracker with slice of Brie, 1/2 teaspoon cranberry sauce and sprinkle of bacon. Broil 1-2 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  

Tip: For vegetarian option, substitute chopped hickory-smoked almonds or pecans for bacon.

Pumpkin Prosciutto Stackers

2          ounces prosciutto

1          ounce aged balsamic vinegar (syrupy consistency)

4          ounces gorgonzola

4          ounces aged Parmesan, shaved

1          bag Crunchmaster Pumpkin Harvest Crackers

Cut prosciutto into cracker-size pieces, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

Pour vinegar into small carafe or dish with serving spoon.

Layer gorgonzola, 1-2 pieces prosciutto and 1-2 pieces shaved Parmesan on one cracker. Drizzle lightly with vinegar. Place on wooden or slate serving platter to serve as inspiration to guests. Plate remaining prosciutto, gorgonzola, Parmesan and crackers on platter before serving and place vinegar nearby.

Apple Pepita Stackers

4          ounces apple butter

1          bag Crunchmaster Pumpkin Harvest Crackers

3          ounces toasted pepitas

12        slivers fresh sage

Spread apple butter over one cracker and sprinkle with pinch of pepitas. Top with sage sliver.

For serving, scoop apple butter into small crock or serving vessel. Place pepitas and sage in serving dishes. Place assembled stacker on platter with crackers. Add serving dishes, if space allows, or position around platter.

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