As you plan the menu for a graduation party, take into account what type of party you are having and the time of day you are having it. For example, if you are having an open house in the middle of the afternoon, it’s perfectly appropriate to stick with very light refreshments such as cake and punch or a small dessert or “nibbles” table, especially if you are aware that groups of graduates will be “making the rounds” of several open houses on the same day.
What you don’t want to do is to leave all the food prep for the day of the party, and the cooking you do on that day should be as simple as possible so you can actually enjoy the party you’ve planned! With these rules in mind, we offer recipes for dips we’ve found to be great crowd-pleasers yet very easy to make – and they look great on a buffet or snack table to boot!
Keep prepared cold dips and sauces in the fridge up to the last possible moment before serving. Warm dips can be kept warm in a crock pot, warmer, or 200°F oven until serving time.
Cream Cheese Dip: Purchase cream cheese in block form, and top the block with any type of salsa, cocktail sauce and crabmeat, green pepper jelly, or jam (any flavor works, but apricot is delicious!). If you are feeling adventurous, combine a couple of packages, and mold them into the shape of a graduation cap. Serve with a variety of crackers. Triscuit™ thins are perfect with this dip.
Baked Brie: Hollow out a big round or oval loaf of Italian or sourdough bread, cutting the bread so that you have a “lid”. Fill the hole with Brie cheese, and put the lid back on. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Serve with small chunks of bread, or crackers. If Brie is not to your taste, fill the bread with another type of dip. Creamy spinach dip would be a great alternative (in that case, don’t bake it).
Artichoke Dip: Mix 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 cup mayonnaise (“light” is OK, but we don’t recommend fat-free for this) and one 24 oz. can of artichoke hearts chopped into small pieces. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes, and serve with crackers. This dip can be served warm or at room temperature.
Cocktail Sauce: Use this in the cream cheese dip above, or in the classic way with chilled shrimp. Combine 1 cup of ketchup or chili sauce, 1-1/2 tablespoons of horseradish, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, a clove of finely minced garlic (optional), ½ teaspoon Worcester sauce and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Adjust ingredients and seasonings as desired, to taste. Serve on ice along with your seafood.
Easy Cheesy Dip: Add one large block of Velveeta Cheese, one 16 oz. can of chili without beans, and one 16 oz. jar of salsa to a crock pot. Stir occasionally. The dip is ready when the cheese is completely melted. Serve with bite-sized tortilla chips.
We hope these recipes are helpful to add to your repertoire as party planner extraordinaire. Find more party planning ideas at ShindigZ Graduation Party headquarters!