Host a Tapas Party: Entertaining on a Budget

Tapas, Spanish for “small plates” dinners have become increasingly popular over the past year. The foods are easy to prepare and some require nothing more than opening a can or jar and making it an easy and inexpensive way to entertain in the summertime. Following are the basics to hosting a tapas party.

The Atmosphere
Spain is a country of bold colors and themes; use this as an inspiration for your decor. Black, red, golden yellows and cobalt blue are all important colors in Spain. Try using a black table cloth and red napkins, or blue napkins and yellow plates. If you don’t have a brightly colored solid tablecloth, a flat sheet will work just as well – it’s the festive color that’s important.

Tapas is one of the easiest forms of entertaining & the food can be put out in advance and served almost anywhere: on the back deck, next to the pool, on the terrace or in the family room or dining room. If you have space, set up the food buffet style, either at one long table or using several smaller stations, and let your guests help themselves.

The Food
Tapas can be as simple as a few different nuts, olives and bread or crackers on the table, or as complicated as several appetizers and dips. Start by setting out small dishes of olives, good crusty bread and olive oil for dipping, almonds, slices or cubes of cheese, chorizo sausage, and raw in-season vegetables such as tomatoes. For the next course, try chunks of grilled sausage, stuffed mushrooms, scallops, appetizer-sized meatballs, and any other hot bites that appeal to you.

For dessert, think small – mini cupcakes, shot glasses filled with trifles, melon balls. Or try this recipe for toasted bread with chocolatefrom Fine Cooking.

The Drinks
The traditional complement to Spanish tapas is chilled sherry, but sangria or even red wine can be a good companion. Have iced water, sparkling water and coffee on hand as well.