Want to know a secret to a really easy way to entertain? Having family and – or friends over for appetizers and drinks is a lot easier than a full-fledged dinner party. Bonus: It’s a lot more F U N too!

After our flash buying trip to Italy at the end of last month, I am completely smitten with the “small bites” party idea. {Oh! The Parmesan, the olives, the bread and the parma ham…it was all SO GOOD.}

The  secret to making this party easy, beautiful and a huge success is to keep the food fairly simple, but the display exceptional!

I am so honored to collaborate with Lisa of DelicousTable for this Autumn Entertaining Series. We had so much fun together creating this series for you!

We’ll be sharing a few amazing appetizer recipes, a gorgeous autumn cocktail that is on the “healthy” side, and later this month, in preparation for Thanksgiving entertaining, another beautiful table setting and a recipe for the most delicious individual Apple Pies.


Autumn in Southern California is often mild enough in the afternoon and early evenings {with a wrap or sweater} to serve drinks and horde’euvres outdoors.  A blazing fire in our fire pit as it grows colder is cozy, and adds instant ambience. The beauty of taking some of this party outside is that there is less “decorating” to do.

To wow your guests and save yourself stress and time, here are a few tricks of the trade to help you.


The key to a beautiful appetizer display is to lay the “ground-work” for the type of setting you are trying to create. Sometimes leaving your wood table bare works. Other times you might want to add a tablecloth. In this case, I wanted a more neutral base than our old aqua painted table would give me.

One antique French tablecloth didn’t cover it all the way, so I simply layered two over each other.  I love luxurious table settings, but I don’t panic over small details.

By the time the food is on the table, the party has started, trust me, no one will notice that you had to “stretch” the tablecloth a little.

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The way to making simple, beautiful food like cheese, vegetables, fresh fruit and bread and crackers shine is to display it in a grand setting.



Nothing helps you achieve this quickly like a long, wood board.


This board? A piece of pine left over after a remodeling project that I asked Mr. FrenchGardenHouse to clean, and sand down for me.  I use it a lot {Any kind of board will do.}



I like to mix up the selections on each part of the board, like I did here, so that guests have to slow down and really enjoy the lavish display before they decide what {if not all!} of the appetizers they want to try.


To make the selections even more enticing, put some items in vintage French bowls, like we did here using the olive bowls from France. The bowls hold Lisa’s Meyer Lemon Tapenade and cut olives. Don’t they look amazing?

I crumpled up some parchment paper to nestle each cheese in, not only does that add another layer of texture, but it makes clean up a breeze.  {and my favorite cheesemonger says we should all be storing our cheeses in parchment paper not plastic!}

ADD HEIGHT.  Since our display was all on one level, the large antique French canning jar with a “bouquet” of olive branches and other clipping from our Provencial front garden adds height.



This statuesque French beauty filled with branches from the garden brings lots of height to our display, and some visual drama.



Another way to add some height is to stand some of the elements of your appetizer spread upright.  Here, I added crispy thin Breadsticks in an antique French Country confiture jar, and fresh green beans stand at attention in an antique French cheese strainer.


French Olive Bowls|French Country Kitchen Collection


It’s amazing how much real linen napkins add to the overall look of any hors d’oeuvres display. An easy and very pretty way to make sure everyone has a napkin handy is to layer them on each plate, and stack!

I know you are thinking “yes, but paper is so easy.” It IS…but these napkins wash in the machine and add so much luxurious charm!


Real napkins just take any table setting or party to the next level.


Linen Napkins

While you are putting together your amazing Autumn Appetizer Display, wear one of our French aprons to protect your clothes.  Made of fabric with traditional French motifs, absolutely beautiful, in autumn’s rich colors.


French Traditional Apron


Recipes for the delicious appetizers developed by Lisa:

Meyer Lemon Tapenade to serve with toasts or inside little peppers.

Brie and Bacon {!!} Palmiers.

Pumpkin Pie Pecans.

A refreshing cocktail drink with the ruby red color of Hibiscus Tea and all the health benefits, too!

Happy Autumn Entertaining!

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