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Top 5 Easy Christmas Appetizers

Tis the season to host Christmas parties and tis the season to get easily stressed out from all the tasks that come with preparing for many guests to visit your home. Not only do you need to invite the guests, clean the house and decorate it with Christmas cheer, but you need to cook a variety of snacks, dishes and treats for everyone to enjoy.

Don't add more stress to your life and take on difficult recipes to impress your friends and family. Making a delicious array of food for your holiday party does not require complicated ingredients or steps. Here is our top five list of easy Christmas appetizers that take little time and little effort, giving you more time to enjoy the Christmas festivities.

5. Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffing mushrooms is an easy recipe that you can easily prepare in advance. Simply slice the stem off of each small mushroom and stuff your filling into the cavities. Whether you want to stuff the mushrooms with a sausage-cheese stuffing, a cheese stuffing or an herb-bread stuffing, it's up to you. All of these stuffings are simple to make and your guests will definitely enjoy them.

4. Crostini

Crostini come in a variety of forms. Thinly slice a baguette, brush both sides of the bread with oil, then season with salt and pepper. Bake the bread in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees to slightly brown the slices. Once they are done baking, top them with any topping of your choice. Make a simple olive tapenade, pesto sauce or spreadable cheese with herbs or sun dried tomatoes. Serve a variety for your guests so there is something for everyone.

3. Spiced Nuts

Toasting nuts in the oven after coating in spices is one of the easiest snacks to make. There's a lot of variety when it comes to spiced nuts. Choose the type of nut or nuts you would like to use and coat in whatever spice you'd like -- spicy, sweet or salty, it's up to you. One method is to whisk your spices with sugar and salt and a whipped egg white, fold in your choice of nuts and bake at 250 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. The other method is to cook directly in a skillet. Mix your combination of spices, toast the nuts in a cast-iron skillet for several minutes, or until they are toasted, then add some butter and the spice mixture. If you want them to be a little sweeter, add brown sugar and constantly stir the mixture until it thickens and the nuts are fully covered with the spices. Your guests will love to munch on this snack.

2. Cheese-Filled Mini Phyllo Tart Shells

Mini phyllo shells make cooking appetizers and finger foods a breeze. My mother and I went to a Christmas brunch the other day and enjoyed miniature feta cheese tarts. The host told us that she stuffed frozen phyllo tart shells with feta cheese, then baked them in the oven until the tops were golden and the dough was completely baked. This is such an easy appetizer for anyone to make for a holiday get-together. Fill with your favorite cheese and combine with herbs to give the tarts a bit more color. If you want to make them a little sweeter, make a cheesecake mixture and fill each phyllo tart shell, then bake until golden.

1. Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Dates

This appetizer is always a winner. Stuff dates with cream cheese, goat cheese, feta cheese or any other soft cheese, then wrap each date with a slice of bacon. Bake the dates on a baking sheet for 20 to 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven. You just have to make sure the bacon is completely cooked. The combination of sweet date with salty bacon and creamy cheese makes the perfect bite.

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