Spinach and artichoke dip is fairly easy to make and pretty much every recipe I've tried has been good. My personal favorite is 7- layer dip or some variation (also easy but not hot).
For that many people I would do 4-5 different dip/ dipper combos: maybe veggies, tortilla chips, crackers and french bread with salsa, hummus, and a couple of homemade dips. That way you cover most people's diet issues (dairy, gluten etc.) Deviled eggs are also pretty easy and popular.
Homemade salsa and good chips and maybe an assortment of hummus with veggies and pita chips?
I always do a cheese assortment with a theme - Italian with fresh mutz, pecorino, and parm with salamis and marinated mushroms, olives, cherry peppers. Or a Fall-themed one with a good yellow cheddar or two and some nice golden-color cheese plus some onion marmalade and fig jam and crackers. Both with the usual suspect crudites-carrots, grape maters, sugar snap peas, celery.
People love fondue - I'm going to try an apple cider cheese fondue (haven't decided on reg or hard cider) soon but dont yet know which recipe I'll follow. I'll serve it with slices of smoked kielbasie or those Lil Smokies or even regular mini-dogs, good rye, sourdough and pumpernickel chunks, apple slices, grapes, and grape tomatoes.
You might be interested in making a dump cake. I made my first one, a Pumpkin Pecan one, a couple weeks ago trying to use up some older cans of pumpkin. It was ridiculously easy and fast and quite honestly delicious. Its easy to cut into squares for a crowd. http://www.cooks.com/recipe/cw1am4bi...dump-cake.html
Dip ideas are good, chili can leave your house a disaster. How young/old, male/female can change your menu....younger guys, high fat and calorie work...older guests better quality, more flavour, wine vs. beer.
Have fun, serve things you can enjoy the party too!
I would do a selection of veggies, chips (tortillas, potato) and cheese platter ith a few different dip options. At least one option free of meat or dairy (hummus fills this quite nicely).
If you want to offer some hot finger foods, my dh's cream cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon are always a huge hit. Tiny spanakopitas are another one of our favorites but are more of a pain to make.
I have the fixings for a cheese fondu and have found that the trick is to find the right bread that is crusty enough to stay on a fork that can be pushed along the bottom of the fondu pot to scrape off the cheese that is beginning to burn --- say from one of those specialty, organic, hand made bread stores.
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