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How to Ace Your Thanksgiving Appetizers

While a perfectly roasted, golden brown turkey may be the indisputable star of the Thanksgiving meal, common co-stars like stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans and other favorites also receive rave reviews. And then there are the desserts....

While a perfectly roasted, golden brown turkey may be the indisputable star of the Thanksgiving meal, common co-stars like stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans and other favorites also receive rave reviews. And then there are the desserts. From apple pie to pumpkin cheesecake, these perennial picks are sure to send guests home with a smile.

But one meal component is often overlooked every year on the third Thursday of November: Appetizers. But it doesn't have to be that way. Read on for five tips aimed at helping your appetizers make a delicious first impression this Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving appetizers

1. Stick with Simple

You don't have to put out an army of appetizers to sufficiently entice the eye and amp up appetites. Choosing one or two simple yet scrumptious snacks is just as crowd-pleasing as sending out a spread featuring a dozen different offerings. Reigning in the appetizer portion of the meal can also free you to focus on the main course...and maybe even have a bit of time for socializing, too.

2. Think Light

While giving your guests something tasty to munch on helps kick off the festivities in style, serving too many or heavy appetizers ultimately risks detracting from the meal. Finger foods are a clever compromise: Guests will enjoy noshing on them without spoiling their appetites before the turkey's even left the oven.

3. Make Them Make-Ahead

Your oven, stovetop, and even microwave are likely to be filled with your Thanksgiving turkey and all of the sides. Embracing make-ahead appetizers can help you avoid adding to holiday space issues. From chips and dips to breads and spreads, your guests will love these fuss-free offerings while you'll love the minimal work involved on the big day.

Several easy yet elegant Thanksgiving appetizer options which can be prepared in advance? Cheese plates, relish trays, mixed nuts, and variations on the always-popular Caprese salad.

Thanksgiving appetizers

4. Mix Things Up

Just because your Thanksgiving dinner is a sit-down meal doesn't mean your event has to have a stodgy or stuffy feel to it. One way to get people mingling? Set up appetizer tasting stations. This encourages your guests to interact before the dinner bell rings. This also gets them out of the kitchen while you're finishing up the meal.

5. Have Them at the Ready

More likely than not, arriving guests will be peckish. Having at least an appetizer ready to go as guests arrive is the hospitable thing to do. After all, many will have traveled a ways and won't have loaded up on a big meal before setting out. Offering a snack from the onset can prevent feelings of peckishness.

Thanksgiving appetizers

And don't forget libations. Having wine or a signature cocktail chilled and/or ready to be poured is one of the best ways to ensure that your gathering has a festive feel from the get-go. The Kitchn's Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria pitcher drink can be mixed up in in mere minutes and is seasonally spot-on.

One thing your Thanksgiving appetizers should not be? Stressful. Remember, while food is an important part of the gathering, the holiday is ultimately about giving thanks. In other words, your guests won't be counting how many appetizers you served and whether they're worthy, but will instead be grateful for the opportunity to gather together united by your hospitality. Register with Cilantro today for more help aimed at making your holidays happy days.