The holiday season always flies by, and squeezing in all the memory-making moments I envision for the holidays takes an intentional approach. One thing I always prioritize? Hosting a cozy night at home with our closest friends around the table. Sharing good food and great conversation during this season forges deep connections, and I promise—it doesn’t need to be stressful or blow your holiday budget.
Here’s my solution when you want to get friends together but are short on time: make a few of my favorite “lazy-fancy” appetizers, set up a self-serve bubbly station, and you’ve got the most festive night ever—no stress required. To show you how it’s done, I partnered up with my friends at Target to share my three favorite appetizers for simplified hosting. Every dish was made with Good & Gather ingredients I stocked up on from a single Target run. (Along with a few other “essentials” I had to have—IYKYK.) Plus, scroll on for a festive table that I set with a few of my favorite Target holiday season finds.
Citrus & Olive Snacking Wreath
First up is one of the prettiest appetizer spreads your friends have ever seen—and it happens to double as the simplest, most delicious grazing board for greeting them when they walk in the door.
This visually stunning appetizer is surprisingly easy to assemble:
- Start with a variety of fresh citrus fruits from Target – think oranges, mandarins, and grapefruits, cut into slices or quarters.
- Arrange these in a circular wreath pattern on a large round serving platter. Nestle in Good & Gather Olives, salted almonds, and slices of Manchego cheese.
- The final flourish? A few sprigs of evergreen and rosemary for a festive touch. This wreath isn’t just an appetizer, it’s a centerpiece.
Stock up on these:
Everything Bagel & Smoked Salmon Board
One thing I learned from my years working in catering? Everyone loves a smoked salmon and bagel situation, especially around the holidays. Transform this classic pairing into a stunning appetizer with the simplest Everything Bagel & Smoked Salmon Board—here’s how it comes together:
- Start with a high-quality smoked salmon, thinly-sliced.
- Arrange the salmon on a pretty platter with all the accoutrements: capers, fresh herbs, thinly-sliced radishes, and most-importantly: the most delicious Good & Gather Everything Seasoning Dip, and Everything Flatbread Crackers.
- You can either let guests build their own, or you can fancy it up and create “hors d’oevres” by layering a small amount of each ingredient on a cracker and serving on a tiered platter. Either way, this board is a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds.
Stock up on these:
Wood-Fired Spinach and Olive Flatbread
Repeat after me: you do not have to reinvent the wheel with every appetizer! For a snacks spread, I almost always choose one store-bought item that I can “dress up” with a little food styling. This Wood-Fired Spinach & Olive Flatbread from Good & Gather is found in the freezer section and is already so delicious, it only takes a couple finishing touches to make it feel party-worthy.
- Simply heat the flatbread as directed so it gets really crispy on the bottom.
- Slice into cute little triangles that guests can easily grab while theyr’e mingling.
- Add freshness with a handful of arugula and a drizzle of reduced balsamic.
Set it out on this beautiful wood serving board and let guests help themselves. (Pro tip: you might want to get a few of these flatbreads—they always go fast!)
Stock up on these:
Toast the season
For holiday hosting, I’m a big fan of simple and festive punch recipes that you can mix up before guests arrive and then let them help themselves. This is one of my go-to’s since it’s ridiculously simple and guests always ask me for the recipe. You can double and triple it for a crowd, and even make a mocktail version by swapping the champagne for sparkling water.
- In a pitcher or punch bowl, add 1 part cranberry juice to 2 parts prosecco. Add ice and stir well.
- Garnish with lemon slices and pomegranate seeds.
- Serve with sparkling water or more prosecco so guests can top their drinks off with more bubbles.
A simple but festive table
Throughout most of the year, I embrace the natural look of our wood dining table, but for a party, I always dress it up with a simple white linen tablecloth. Don’t stress about getting every last wrinkle out—the beauty of linen is that it’s casually rumpled. I love the organic, woodsy look of this faux evergreen garland from Hearth & Hand—and one of my favorite ways to use a garland is as a “runner” down the center of the table! It’s a simple way to add festivity without blocking the flow of conversation.
Then, I was ready to pop in the twinkling candlelight that makes every dinner party setup feel special. I think that candlelight is the quickest, most affordable way to give any gathering a magical glow, and I’m obsessed with these matte gold taper holders this year. When adding tall, sculptural elements like candlesticks to the table, I like to keep things a bit asymmetrical—and for added twinkle, feel free to tuck a few votives in among the greenery.
You can shop the entire look on my Target storefront, where you’ll find all of my favorite Target buys for every space.
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