5 Holiday Party Dishes That Will Seriously Wow Your Guests

These festive platters and party foods will be the centerpiece of your seasonal get-together.

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell ©Food Network 2016

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell ©Food Network 2016

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell ©©Food Network 2016

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell ©Food Network 2016

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell ©Food Network 2016

A More Inventive Buffet

At the holidays, we look forward to all the foods we don't normally eat during the other, less-festive months of the year — snacks like cheese balls with crackers, colorful crudite platters, and (of course) a bevy of sweet treats. This year we've plated, shaped and arranged some of our favorite holiday dishes into seasonal sculptures, perfect for entertaining.

 

By Heather Ramsdell, Sarah Neumeier, Alexis Markowitz and Sara Dreibelbis for Food Network Kitchen

Cheese and Crackers Christmas Tree

Form a stout cone around a large pretzel rod using your favorite cheese ball mixture. Press chopped fresh parsley onto the outside of the cheese to make it green. Then tuck in small pretzels, mini cracker rounds, nuts and pomegranate seeds to decorate it. Dust the edges with more finely chopped fresh parsley and grated Parmesan for a "snowy" final touch. Serve with crackers.

Get the Recipe: Cheese and Crackers Christmas Tree

Citrus Star

In the darkest days of winter, snappy, juicy citrus is abundant and especially delicious. Peel the rinds from different-sized citrus fruits, like blood oranges, tangerines, ruby red and white grapefruit, giant pomelos, and kumquats. Slice the fruit into rounds, half rounds, wedges or segments, as desired. Arrange the pieces in the shape of a star on a large platter. Garnish with slices of ripe starfruit for extra "sparkle" — we also added pomegranate seeds and tomatoes here to make this platter even more vibrant. If you like, you can mist the star with an orange liqueur or bitters, or you can sprinkle with salt and drizzle with a good olive oil.

Crudite Wreath

Create a stunning wreath of green vegetables on your largest round platter (the larger the better — volume is key to make a statement here). Staples like broccoli, green beans, snap peas and cucumbers all work. Up the ante by adding lightly broiled shishito peppers, Romanesca cauliflower and any other green veggies you can get your hands on. To make them extra bright and more tender, blanch them in well-salted, boiling water and then put them in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Accent your wreath with bright-red cherry tomatoes. Serve with your favorite dip on the side.

Get the Recipe: Crudites Wreath

Crispy Rice Cereal Snowman

This adorable guy is big enough to share. Shape homemade marshmallow cereal treats while they are still warm into two balls, making one ball (the body) slightly bigger than the other (the head). Thanks to the tackiness of the still-warm marshmallows, they'll stick together. Roll the balls in coconut flakes (buzz the flakes in the food processor first to make them finer and more snowlike). Poke guide holes for the eyes, nose, arms and buttons with a chopstick. Use a dab of melted marshmallow to stick on candy eyes, nose, mouth and buttons. Use peppermint sticks for arms and a strip of fruit leather or sour candy gummy for a scarf. To eat, slice off pieces with a sharp knife.

Antipasto Express Train

Wind a train track of pretzel rod rail ties on a parchment runner, wrapping the track around any other snacks on the table. Line up pieces of halved baguettes for rail cars. Balance cucumber wheels on both sides of the cars. Pile each one high with classic antipasto ingredients like mozzarella balls, prosciutto bundles, large olives, marinated artichokes and stuffed hot peppers. Add a bread and olive chimney to the engine, and remember that a caboose is usually red. Provide toothpicks for guests to pick up their payload. Your train can be as long as your table will hold — giving the one around your tree a run for its money.

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