22 Easy Hors d’Oeuvres for Holiday Entertaining

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People sometimes get confused between appetizers and hor d’oeuvres. Which is which? What’s the difference? There’s no officially mandated distinction between the two, but in common parlance, an appetizer is the first course of a meal, usually served sitting at the table. In French, the term “hors d’oeuvre” (purists insist it can’t be pluralized, even when more than one item is involved) means approximately “outside the main work” — the main work being the actual meal.

Hors d’oeuvres (we’re not purists) are typically finger food, served with cocktails or at least before dinner is served. They can also just be snacks. (Speaking of which, these are 40 discontinued snack foods we really miss.)

However you define them, hor d’oeuvres are an essential part of holiday entertaining, whether you make them part of an elaborate spread you’ve planned ahead of time or just throw one or two together at the last minute.

24/7 Tempo has combed through numerous cookbooks and recipe websites to come up with a list of easy hors d’oeuvres that will help make your holidays more festive and quite possibly less stressful — whether you’re hosting a full-scale get-together, having a few friends drop by for an open house, or just toasting the season with your loved ones.

Some of these are home-style versions of food you might find in restaurants. Some are familiar party fare you’ve probably had a hundred times (and wouldn’t mind having a hundred times again). Some are strictly old-school — things your parents or even grandparents might have enjoyed at festivities of their own. (Here are more old-school appetizers that are classics for a reason.)

You won’t find recipes here, just photographs and brief descriptions, but an online search will return recipes galore.