Feel like inviting people over tonight just because? Want to keep the party going after dinner or drinks out with friends? Get together with anyone anytime — last-minute and worry free! The key is to stock up on a few impromptu party essentials like these, brought to you by Evite in partnership with Strongbow.
Strongbow® is produced by Stassen SA. Imported by Bulmers Cider Company, White Plains, NY.
Hard cider: Fall is the perfect time to enjoy the crisp, bright apple flavor of hard cider. Pouring hard apple cider (such as Strongbow Gold Apple, pictured here) over ice really brings out its effervescence, making it a refreshing change from beer or wine.
Olives: Most self-respecting supermarkets feature a food bar with Mediterranean-style green and black olives. Look for ones stored in brine and ladle out enough to completely cover your olives; that will ensure they keep for at least a month. Or go for oil-cured olives; they can last as long as a year. To serve, get fancy and set out wooden picks for easy nibbling.
Nuts: There’s a reason nuts can be found in every bar: They go well with almost any beverage. Instead of a bowl of ho-hum mixed nuts, select two or three types of whole nuts, such as pistachios and two kinds of almonds — sweet Marcona and smoky roasted.
Baguette, olive oil and vinegar: Take it from the French — a baguette adds a simple, elegant touch to any gathering. Even better, you can cut a fresh one in half, freeze, then serve it toasty warm anytime you’re ready: Just wrap it in foil and bake at 250 degrees for 15 minutes. Pair it with very good olive oil accompanied by a swirl of balsamic vinegar.
Cheese: One sliver of a well-aged cheese trumps half a loaf of processed cheddar cheese any time. Invest in two or three good hard cheeses, such as Spain’s Manchego, English cheddar, or Dutch gouda — they’ll last at least a month in the fridge.
Dried fruit: The concentrated sugars and flavors of dried fruit are a perfect addition to impromptu party fare, and they’ll last in your cupboard for six months or more. Try a combination like apples and apricots to make hard cheeses come alive.
Hummus: Velvety hummus is the ideal counterpoint to the crunch of crackers. Store-bought hummus can last over a month unopened (check the expiration date on the package) and about five days once opened. Serve it with a little olive oil and paprika on top and fan out flatbreads or pita chips around the dip.
Chips and dip: Nothing’s a bigger crowd pleaser than tortilla chips and salsa. To keep an opened bag of chips fresh, use a chip clip or binder clip. Salsa can last months in the pantry — just check the expiration date on the jar — and about 10 days once it’s opened.
Coffee and tea: Put a pot of coffee on and offer an assortment of herbal and black teas. Have a single cup coffee maker? Set up a coffee station in the kitchen and let guests select fun single-cup flavors such as pumpkin spice. Just keep in mind that you’ll also need milk and sugar on hand.
Cookies and dark chocolate: Don’t skip the sweets. Keep it simple but quality with an understated selection of good dark chocolate and pure butter cookies. Packaged cookies will last at least a month before opening and two weeks afterward, and dark chocolate is good for even longer. Set them out with tea and coffee and watch them disappear.
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