Plan well in advance. If you leave the nibbles until the very last minute, you will most probably be running around throwing together average, mediocre snacks half an hour before your guests arrive. In addition to planning the meal and drinks in advance, make sure you also decide which nibbles you will be serving with the drinks.
The general rule is that you should serve 4-6 cold items, 3-4 hot dishes and 2-3 sweet mini-desserts. Cold items might include spiced nuts, an olive tray, a cheese and cracker platter, a shrimp cocktail platter, Bloody Mary shots with cucumber sticks, fig & blue cheese skewers, stuffed mushrooms, or mini avocado tarts. Hot items need to be served right off the stove/out of the oven, so opt for warm nibbles like mini meatballs, Parmesan cheese cigarettes, chicken wings, mini pizzas, or mini tacos. Sweet treats can include an assortment of small bite-sized cakes, cookies, or even candy like truffles.
Keep in mind that the nibbles need to be intensely flavourful, to compliment and stand up to the drinks, which generally tend to be pretty strong in flavour. Make sure every nibble is filled with flavour and packs a big punch – go with big, bold combinations of both salty and savoury. E.g. instead of using cheeses like ricotta, or cottage cheese, go for options like blue cheese, sharp cheddar, etc.
Keep the nibbles simple and small. Don’t go for elaborate, convoluted concoctions of far-flung flavours and ingredients – most likely, you won’t be able to find the patience or time to make large batches of these, and your guests might be bewildered when it comes figuring out how to pick up these complicated snacks, let alone eat them. A good rule to keep in mind is that the nibbles should be such that they can be eaten one-handed – they are called “nibbles” for a reason, so keep them simple and bite-sized.
Choose some snacks that need to be served at room temperature – you can leave these lying out for the duration of the party, and let the guests help themselves. These could be traditional snacks, like chips and veggies with dip, and shrimp puffs. Just make sure there is nothing in these that might go bad if left standing about for a couple of hours.