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Seasonal menu planning for the perfect dinner party.

Serious Entertaining: Christmas Eve Appetizers

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[Photographs: Carrie Vasios]

While opening a few teaser presents. Before going to midnight mass. After popping a bottle of champagne, turning up Bing Crosby, and putting the last few ornaments on the tree. These are all times on Christmas Eve when a nibble or two would be more than welcome.

When designing my Christmas Eve meal, I keep in mind that it's the day before a feast. Just a few thoughtful bites, a light dinner, and champagne are all you need.

Salmon Rillette

One of my favorite party snacks is a plate of good quality smoked salmon. This year, I changed things up by making salmon rillette, a French spread that's best eaten smeared on pieces of warm baguette. It's a combination of smoked salmon, salmon that's marinated in Pernod then steamed, and, yes, a lot of butter.

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Gougères

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These are cheese puffs, à la française. Gougères are extremely easy to make: a simple savory pâte à choux dough is mixed with salty Gryuyère cheese (with a bit more sprinkled on top for good measure). The results are light, tender, cheesy bites that are best eaten hot. They're also good split and stuffed with slices of prosciutto or ham.

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Oysters with Mignonette Sauce

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This appetizer was inspired by the Parisian tradition of eating oysters on Christmas Eve. Though the French eat theirs plain, I like to top mine with a bit of a mignonette sauce, which is made with Champagne vinegar, white wine, shallots, and a few turns of black pepper.

These hors d'oeuvres all pair nicely with sparkling wine. Wondering what kind to buy? Check out our guide!

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About the author: Carrie Vasios is the Community Manager of Serious Eats and writes the Wake and Bake, Cookie Monster, and Serious Entertaining columns. She likes perusing her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar.

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