By Jan Norris

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The holidays are a whirlwind and everybody’s seemingly busy — too busy, generally, for dinner parties.
Cocktail or wine parties have become the way to entertain large numbers and do it with ease — with the right foods on hand. Set out a dip or two, some olives and cheeses, have  great tunes spinning and you’re good to go.
Here’s a list to get you prepared as a last-minute host:

For cocktail foods:
Roasted red peppers
Cocktail breads
Dried figs, apricots, dates
Pickle selection – sweet and dill
Nuts – unsalted is best
    (toast your own with herbs)
Caviar – buy domestic for garnishing
Cracker selection: Wheat, cheese, pretzel,
    rice or soy for gluten free diners
Cheese selection
(3 or 4 cheese varieties, 2 semi-soft; 2 hard)
Dried meat selection
(sausages, hams, beef)

    To make quick dips:
Sour cream
Pepper jelly
Onion jam
Cream cheese
    (or Neufchatel – lower in fat)
Jarred salsa (or buy fresh if possible)
Herb mixes or salad dressing spices
Churrasco hot pepper sauce
Vegetable slices


For the bar:
Vodka, Rum, Bourbon, Scotch, Tequila
2 red wines
(Pinot Noir or Merlot;
Beaujolais as a lighter choice)
2 white wines (Chardonnay or Pinot Gris;
Dry Reisling or Viognier)
Sparkling wine (A Spanish Cava, Italian Prosecco
or a domestic sparkling wine suggested)
Fruit juice mixers: cranberry, apple, citrus juices
Lime mix
Sodas — cola, lemon-lime, ginger ale
Club soda
Sparkling and still bottled waters
Liqueurs: orange, raspberry and coffee flavored
Craft beer selection
Maraschino cherries, olives, salt and coarse sugar
for glasses
Extra ice cubes
Picks for garnishes

Plastic drink cups
Cocktail napkins
Small dishes for nuts, olives and other snack foods
Plastic wine glasses for pool areas
Paper plates
Paper napkins

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