I’ve always had a weak spot for shareable foods served in cute vessels and Spanish tapas are no exceptions. When my husband and I visited Barcelona a few years ago, we stopped by a tapas bar every night before dinner – just so that we could indulge in big piles of tapas (and ok, maybe we drank a bit of Cava too ;). Each bar we went to offered the most amazing selection of dishes; from cheesy croquetas, to spicy chorizo, local cheeses, and more! It was the best.
While I sadly can’t dash back to Spain every time I feel like a tapa, I can definitely do the next best thing which is to organise tapas parties at home!
Tapas parties are always a big hit with guests because a) I’m not the only one who finds Spanish food irrestible and b) they’re always super fun and relaxed. I recently hosted a small tapas party so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my tips on how to make this kind of party as fun and stress-free as possible.
1- SETTING THE SCENE
Tapas parties are meant to be fun and informal so there’s really no need to go over the top with party decorations.
- Forgo the typical sit down dinner setting and instead set up a simple buffet where everyone will be able to help themselves thoughout the evening. Serving the food this way will not only make it much easier for you but also set the ‘laid back’ mood for the party.
- Serve the food in various plates and vessels, making sure to vary their sizes and heights for a bit of visual interest. Colors such as red, yellow, and terracotta are often associated with Spain but don’t worry too much if you don’t own items in these colors. Don’t be afraid to use unusual items as decorations either; cocktails glasses, coffee cups or even spoons can make great serving dishes and a pile of lemons can be turned into a gorgeous centerpiece!
- For an extra festive touch, play Spanish music (check out websites such as Spotify for cool ready-made playlists) and arrange pretty string lights or candles throughout your house.
2- THE FOOD
One of the best things about a tapas party is that you get to try a wide array of delicious food in one night. That being said, just because you want to create an abundant table doesn’t mean that should ruin yourself doing so or spend all night cooking in the kitchen. Here is a list of recipe ideas that feature both hot and cold dishes, most of which can be made ahead of time:
- Fried calamari
- Spanish tortilla
- Pan con tomate (toasted slices of bread rubbled with garlic and fresh tomato)
- Chorizo braised in red wine
- Melon squares wrapped in serrano ham
- Smoked paprika almonds
- Garlic shrimp
- Spanish ham croquetas
These dishes can then be complimented by store-bought items such as:
- Crudites and dips
- Canned anchovies
- A selection of cheese and cold meats
- The list goes on!
I usually offer about 6 or 7 dishes to my guests and count on 6 to 8 bites per person if it’s a cocktail party or 12 to 14 bites if it’s meant to replace a sit down meal. I also always have some extra cheese and crackers on hand in case I need more food.
3- THE DRINKS
Obviously, all this yummy food calls for refreshing drinks!
You can never go wrong with a traditional Spanish sangria in my opinion but should you want to mix things up you could always replace the red wine by white, rose, or sparkling wine! Back in Spain, we actually found that most people often just enjoyed a glass of cider or Cava with their tapas so that’s another option!
Of course, don’t forget to offer non alcoholic drinks as well, such as fruit juice and water. This Virgin Sangria also sounds all kinds of delicious!
I hope you found these tips useful. Happy partying!