Planning your party canapés

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The most important thing when it comes to cooking and preparing canapés is timing. In general, the easiest way to prepare your party food is to start with the ones that can keep the longest, to get them out of the way, as well as any that take the longest amount of time to prepare. As a rule of thumb I start making a list at least a few days before so I can get all the ingredients, and then I start preparing a few canapés the day before the party so that I can spend the day of the party finishing the fresher canapes, as well as adding final touches to the house – and get myself ready too! Click here for my top ten party tips.


First I write down my menu – I love my Smythson ‘Brunches, Lunches, Suppers, Dinners‘ book to help me keep track of previous parties as it can give inspiration for new ones, and I never write without my Parker Pen!

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Some great canape ideas include my cucumber, feta & pomegranate bites, smoked salmon rolls,  smoked salmon blinis, chocolate oranges, devils on horseback, puff pastry tarts, stuffed peppadews, cream cheese stuffed Padron peppers, and mini bruschetta, but it’s also worth having some bowls with crisps, nuts, pretzels etc dotted around and perhaps also a cheese board with some good bread, grapes, cold cut meats, and some good hummus, tzatsiki and aioli, with crudités for dipping!

party planning

When you have decided on your menu and brought in all the ingredients, it doesn’t hurt to ask for an extra pair of hands to help out the day before! Too many people can become distracting, but asking one or two friends to help out can make it a lot more fun and manageable. Just put some music on and give everyone a task to do!

party planning

Canapés that can easily be prepared a day in advance include sushi (which is fun to make with friends), any pastries like mince pies, stuffed peppers and peppadews (store in the fridge but bring to room temperature for the party), the salmon rolls (just leave them rolled up in the fridge and cover with cling film, then cut a few hours before the party), devils on horseback (you can prepare these the day before but don’t put them in the oven until the evening of the party), and any other foods that can keep overnight – sometimes I like to prepare a hearty soup which I can serve to the late-stayers! Make sure you also have enough to drink on offer so that you won’t need to rush to the supermarket on the day of the party! Mulled wine is easy to make in big batches and perfect for a Christmas party, or you could make a mixture for bellini cocktails. Other cocktails like punch or Sangria you can make on the day itself. Also worth doing the day before is getting the house as ready as possible – so that all you need to do the following day is light the candles and add some last-minute touches!

parker penparty planning

On the day of the party all you’ll need to do is slice your salmon rolls into pretty circles, prepare the tomato mixture for the bruschetta, make the cucumber cups, the chocolate oranges, and the puff pastry tarts, make sure there’s a big pot of mulled wine or some pitchers of sangria, and a drinks station / bar area where guests can either help themselves or someone can pour drinks. Then you should have enough time left over to get yourself ready, light the candles, and be a stress-free hostess!

parker penparty planning