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Effortless Ideas for a Cocktail Party

Blueprint, September/October 2007

Just because it's easy doesn't mean it's cheesy. These indulgent hors d' oeuvres, plus martinis by the pitcher, will add class to your act, even though they require little or no prep. (The secret: Everything is store-bought.) Use these aces in the hole to pull off an impromptu celebration, like for a friend who lands her dream job.

Dill-Vodka Martini
To make a pitcher, mix 3 cups dill-infused vodka with 1/3 cup dry vermouth. Stir over ice and strain into chilled martini glasses. Garnish with sliced Kirby cucumbers, capers, and sprigs of fresh dill. Herbs Aromatic Dill Leaf Infused Vodka (Gotham Wines, 212-932-0990)

Arancini (top row, left)
Simply buy, bake, and serve. Fontina Thyme and Lemon Croquettes and Mozzarella and Basil Croquettes (williams-sonoma.com)

Mini Antipasta (top row, right)
Lay out miniature mushrooms, hot salami, roasted red peppers, sliced Parmesan, and crackers for stacking. Marinated Mushrooms with Garlic (traderjoes.com for stores), Niman Ranch uncured dried salami (murrayscheese.com), Divina Roasted Red Peppers (1800gourmet.com), Dean & DeLuca Cracker Assortment (deananddeluca.com)

Hot and Spicy Cajun Peanuts (middle row, left)
Serve in several bowls; remember to reserve one for the kitchen clique. Virginia Peanuts (vapeanuts.com)

Spanakopitas (middle row, middle)
From the acclaimed Poseidon Greek Bakery in New York City; heat and serve. (212-757-6173)

Cocktail Tamales (middle row, right)
Steam and serve. (williams-sonoma.com)

Vegetable Bird's Nests (bottom row, left)
Heat according to package instructions, and serve with soy sauce for dipping. (traderjoes.com for stores)

Ginger-Sesame Cookies (bottom row, middle)
Top cookies with shaved cheddar and a dab of cabernet paste. Dough Ray Me Ginger Sesame Cookies (doughrayme.com for stores); Maggie Beer Cabernet Paste (earthy.com)

Snap Pea Crisps (bottom row, right)
Arrange on small trays. (traderjoes.com for stores)