60+ Christmas appetizer ideas for any kind of holiday gathering

A downshot of an appetizer table featuring different cheeses, fruit and spreads.

Gathering to share joy with the people we care about is one of the best things about Christmas. And while sitting down to a holiday feast with family is often a given, it’s fun to get together with our friends and coworkers, too. Christmas appetizers are a great way to make sharing, eating and indulging with a crowd easier. 

 After all, spiral-cut hams are a little unwieldy.

To help you plan your holiday grazing, we pulled together ALL of our Christmas appetizer ideas into this article. We then sorted them into categories according to the type of gathering they’d fit. That said, feel free to mix and match these Christmas appetizer ideas as you please! When it comes to holiday food, there’s no wrong way to enjoy yourself.

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The Christmas appetizer setup: Snacking the night away  

These Christmas snack options are perfect for those holiday parties set at odd times, which allows you to keep more traditionally timed gatherings for family. For instance, an afternoon gift-wrapping get-together, where you need lots of mess-free finger food. Or an after-dinner dance party with friends from high school when you travel back home for the holidays.

Representing a wide variety of flavor profiles, there’s enough protein scattered throughout these Christmas snack recipes that people will still feel full.


More ideas:

  • Spinach and artichoke dip: A classic for good reason. Cheesy, salty, melty and enough green vegetables to convince yourself it might be good for you.
  • Baked brie and crackers: We’d also suggest putting out some honey or fruit preserves. Both are delicious paired with brie.
  • Cheese board: Can’t settle on just brie? Then make a whole cheese platter! Include crackers and some fruit to provide a break from all the richness.
  • Charcuterie board: This is the fancy, French way of saying “cured meat and pickles board.” Think thin slices of prosciutto, Genoa salami, cornichons (mini pickles) and different relishes.
  • Veggies and dip: You honestly can’t go wrong here. Chances are, someone there is trying to be balanced about all the goodies they’re eating. (It’s not selfish if that someone is you.)

The Christmas appetizer setup: Full hearts, full stomachs  

If your holiday party is during a happy hour or dinner, then some heartier Christmas appetizer ideas might be in order. In this list, you’ll find lots of savory items, with meat usually playing the star. 

Don’t feel like you have to put meat in an appetizer to make it hearty, though—apps that include starchy items like pasta or potatoes are very filling as well.


More ideas:

  • Meatballs: Cooked in a crockpot with your favorite regional sauce, this is about as easy as it gets when it comes to Christmas appetizers.
  • Fondue: Whether you go with meat cooked in a hot pot/oil or just cheese dipped in bread is totally up to you. Both are super satisfying and fun.
  • Bacon-wrapped shrimp: Easy but somehow still fancy? Or maybe everyone just loves bacon. 
  • Shrimp cocktail: A little lighter on account of the lack of bacon. But we won’t hold that against this Christmas appetizer idea.
  • Stuffed mushrooms: Slightly fiddly? Maybe. Endless, fun options for the stuffing? Absolutely. Medium-sized mushrooms make filling easy while keeping portions reasonable.
  • Loaded baked potato skins: These always feel like the height of indulgence for some reason. It probably has to do with the lopsided potato-to-topping ratio. Feels so bad but tastes so good.
  • Flatbread or pizzas, cut into slices: Look, finger food doesn’t have to start as finger food. Bake (or order!) a big flatbread or pizza, then slice it up and arrange it pretty. Everyone will be too busy eating to call foul.
  • Dates stuffed with gorgonzola and wrapped with bacon: Savory bacon + sweet dates + salty gorgonzola = drool tsunami.
  • Jalapeño poppers: These are another endlessly customizable Christmas appetizer idea. And if you work at it, you could make them look like Christmas lights!

The Christmas appetizer setup: Low-key holiday brunch  

If Christmas brunch is a relatively new concept, then Christmas brunch appetizers have got to be completely cutting-edge, right? Even if it’s not, it’s way easier than an elaborate sit-down brunch. And we’re all for easy.

For example: Trying to serve scrambled eggs at just the right temperature and consistency for a table full of people with completely different preferences? No, thank you. We’ll take these Christmas brunch appetizers over that any day.


More ideas:

  • French toast sticks: You know how you always want to get these at the drive-thru when you get breakfast, but you don’t because they’d be too messy for the car? Well, you’re not in the car.
  • Waffle sticks: You could also do waffle wedges. Ooooh…like waffle NACHOS! A waffle nacho BAR. (OK, we need to stop.)
  • Puff-pastry breakfast pizza: Could you make breakfast pizza on regular pizza crust? Yes, but why would you when putting it on puff pastry is basically like putting it on a croissant?
  • Bagels and schmear: With the help of your favorite local bagel place, this might be the easiest of all the Christmas brunch appetizer ideas. Get a selection of cream cheese flavors for fun.
  • Miniature scones: Proving that just about anything can be an appetizer if you just make it smaller.
  • Fruit board with yogurt dip: Some people get a stomachache if all they eat in the morning is rich food. Those people will appreciate having some fresh fruit.

The Christmas appetizer setup: Sweet things  

This was hard—are these Christmas dessert recipes? Or Christmas dessert appetizers? We’ve decided they can be both. And honestly, they could fit with any of the gatherings mentioned above, so we arranged them by how they’re consumed. 


Dip and dunk 

Desserts you can dip are SO much fun. We really don’t encounter them as often as we should! While we go lobby for more dippable desserts, check out these Christmas-worthy options.


Grab and go 

If you’re throwing a shindig where people are coming and going as their schedule allows, these Christmas dessert snacks are a great option. Just fly by like Santa, grab a handful or a serving and be on your merry way.

All the cookies

What kind of Christmas party doesn’t have Christmas cookies? Well, lots of them, honestly. But we think they make the perfect Christmas dessert idea. You can just make one big batch and call it good. Best of all, leftovers can be frozen for sneaky snacking later.


And don’t forget:

  • Snowball cookies: Also called Russian tea or Mexican wedding cookies, these were (and still are) a must-have in my family’s house during the holidays.
  • Chocolate chip cookies: Basic? Uh, don’t you mean classic? And scrumptious. No one can pass up the simple deliciousness of a chocolate chip cookie. Try sprinkling a little flaky salt on them right out of the oven. People love it.
  • Snickerdoodles: The quintessential cookie. More interesting than sugar cookies but not as spicy as gingerbread cookies. Definitely a crowd-pleaser.
  • Peanut butter cookies: Some people might disagree with this being a Christmas cookie. And that’s fine. They can be wrong.
  • Butter cookies: Also known as Danish butter cookies. You can find them all over the place in metal tins during the holidays. They’re always good, so don’t worry about people judging you for choosing store-bought.

With all these Christmas appetizer ideas, we’re sure you’ll be able to feed a multitude of merry-makers this holiday season.  

And just in case you need some more holiday planning resources, we’ll drop these here: