Holiday Wreath Fruit Pizza (Photo by Angie Sutton.)

Don’t let a last-minute party invite throw you into a panic this holiday season. Keep a list with simple homemade and semi-homemade recipes handy with a few basic ingredients you can pull together quickly.

Having a couple go-to recipes that you’ve prepared before can keep your stress level at bay. Save the new recipes for a lazy Saturday afternoon when you can test them on your spouse and kids, who will provide honest feedback.

Elegant Cheese Platter

Cheese Platter

Photo by Angie Sutton.

This is a great option if you have limited notice for a party or are travelling a distance to the venue. I like to purchase several holiday-themed platters at the local discount store to have on hand and a box of two-gallon-sized resealable baggies. If I need to depart the festivities early I can just leave the platter.


Mild cheddar cheese slices

Colby-jack cheese slices

Pepperjack cheese slices

Handful of red grapes

Handful of green grapes

1 sleeve artisan crackers

Handful of almonds


Arrange all ingredients on platter. Wrap by inserting platter into large resealable plastic baggie.

Apron Strings Notes: Grab a few inexpensive tongs when you purchase the platters and tuck one in.

Lively Hummus


Photo by Angie Sutton.

Perfect for the office party or evening gathering, this colorful homemade tray makes a festive statement. Serve with red, green and yellow bell peppers seeded and cut into strips. Can also be served with pita chips or other cut fresh veggies.


2 (13.5-oz.) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 garlic clove, grated

2/3 c. olive oil

1 Tbsp. tap water

1/4 c. tahini paste

1/4 c. traditional barbecue sauce

1/4 c. fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp. salt


Dump all ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight. Stir before serving.

Tomato Dazzlers

These savory bites are ready in a flash! We’re talking 10 minutes of preparation and a whole lot of holiday wow!


1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes

1 container soft herbed cheese spread

1/4 c. finely chopped walnuts


1. Cut tomatoes in half. Using a small cookie scoop or spoon, scoop out and discard seeds.

2. Using the small scoop, fill each tomato shell with the herbed spread. Top with chopped walnuts.

Apron Strings Notes: No time to scoop tomatoes out? Slice a cucumber and top it with the different types of spreads.

Holiday Wreath Fruit Pizza

There are several presentation options for this crowd-pleasing nosh. Make individual wreaths by purchasing the refrigerator sugar cookie dough or make a large wreath with the cookie dough sheet product. It can serve as an appetizer or after-meal refreshing finisher.


1 (16.5-oz.) tube refrigerator sugar cookies

1 (8-oz.) container whipped mixed berry cream cheese

4 c. assorted fresh fruit, sliced


1. For individual cookies, place dough slices on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Use a small circular object to cut the middle of each cookie out to make a wreath. Bake as directed on package. For a large wreath, line a 12-inch pizza pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Spread cookie dough on bottom of pan. Use a large glass or bowl to cut the center out to for a wreath shape. Bake 14 minutes and check often to avoid overbrowning.

2. Remove cookies or large cookie to cooling rack and cool completely. Once cool, place on a platter and spread with cream cheese. Press fruit lightly into the cream cheese.

3. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

Apron Strings Notes: Fruit such as strawberries, grapes, kiwi, blueberries and raspberries work the best.

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