Do you scoff at the notion of "easy holiday entertaining"?

Would you rather splurge on festive beverages than on dinner reservations?

Did you manage to score dinner reservations that are so late in the evening you'll need to eat hours beforehand?

'Tis this the season to save, rather than spend?


If you nodded in an affirmative manner at one or more of these questions, follow our lead. These appetiser-size recipes are quick, easy, fun to look at and inexpensive to make. They are designed to take you from savoury to sweet, and we can practically guarantee your guests will be sated.

Each of the recipes serve eight, and several of them can be made in advance.

Beer Cheese Balls

Photo / Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post
Photo / Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

30g aged cheddar, in chunks
230g Swiss or Emmental cheese, in chunks
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp mustard powder
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup of beer
230g pecan pieces

Combine the chunked, aged cheddar and chunked Swiss or Emmental cheese in a food processor; pulse until crumbly. Add minced garlic cloves, mustard powder and Worcestershire sauce; pulse to incorporate.

With the motor running, gradually add the beer to form a fairly smooth puree. Form the mixture into 24 to 26 small balls.

Place small pecan pieces in a zip-lock bag. Add 1 or 2 balls at a time and gently press to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve, with toothpicks.

Sweet and Salty Onion Triangles

Photo / Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post
Photo / Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

1 small onion
12 slices of white bread
4 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Cut 1 small sweet onion into very thin half-moons. Soak them in cold water for 5 minutes, then drain; this will reduce their pungency. Trim the crusts off 12 slices of white bread. Toast the trimmed bread lightly, if desired.


Mash together butter, turmeric and parsley.

Spread the parsley butter on each piece of bread. Cut the bread in half on the diagonal, then top with a few pieces of onion. Sprinkle each piece with flaky sea salt.

Saucy Roasted Potatoes

This is a take on Spanish patatas bravas.

Photo / Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post
Photo / Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

3 cups of potatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Chilli flakes

1/4 cup of mayo
3 tbsp Sriracha sauce

Rinse and drain round potatoes.

Spread them on a rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch or two of coarse or flaky sea salt and crushed chilli flakes. Roast in a 200-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just tender.

Meanwhile, whisk together mayonnaise and Sriracha.

Transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl. Top with spoonfuls of the chilli mayo sauce and an optional sprinkling of chopped chives.

Mascarpone Apricots

These can be assembled and refrigerated, without the drizzle, a day in advance.

Photo / Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post
Photo / Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

16 dried apricots
200g of mascarpone
1/3 cup of honey
1/3 cup of pistachios
Flaky sea salt

Use a small serrated knife to make a horizontal split two-thirds of the way around the dried apricots.

Fill each one with a teaspoon or two of mascarpone so that the cheese is showing at the edge, arranging them on a platter as you work. Press the cheese sides into a bowl of 1/3 cup shelled, chopped, unsalted pistachios, coating the mascarpone. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.