Canned seafood is definitely having a moment. Lewin suggests serving a variety of not-too-fancy-but-still-very-chic tins of sliced octopus, calamari, or codfish. “It’s an experience in and of itself that’s perfect for a dinner party,” she says, “because people get to taste their way through them and pick out their favorites. It’s also a great way to add protein to the table.”
Don’t have guests bring a dish. Do have them bring a condiment they’d like everyone to try.
Asking guests to bring an entire dish puts a lot of pressure on them—which is not very chill unless it’s a potluck and they know what they’re getting into—but serving all the food in a snack format allows everyone to bring a stand-alone item that they’re passionate about and want to share with the group. We’re talking cool condiments, like strawberry fig and chipotle jam, orange blossom honey, or French churned butter. “It becomes this fun show-and-tell thing where everyone’s contributing to the table, thanking one another, and saying, ‘OMG, what is this thing? I have to know more about it. I’m gonna go out and buy it tomorrow,’” Lewin says. “It turns the dinner into a real conversation starter.”
Embrace your random, mismatched dinnerware
The thought of making a perfectly manicured, IG-worthy cheeseboard can feel intimidating. The portions! The placements! The symmetry! But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Lewin advocates for using a hodgepodge of serving vessels and materials. “Wood and resin with different colors, textures, and styles can bring personality to each thing you’re eating,” she says. “The snack table wants that!” On a purely aesthetic level, a unique vessel can go a long way in making anything look good—even if it happens to be a plate of beige store-bought crackers. (If you’re keen on a matching set, though, we’ve got you covered too.)
Practice on a Tuesday night
I can’t think of one good reason to save your snack plate for a dinner party. Who doesn’t want to chow on cheese and crackers in front of the TV on a weeknight? Plus, practice enough and snack-platter mastery will be second nature and stress-free when it comes time to host. “Cheese pairings tend to stress people out,” Lewin says. “I think that’s because no one thinks about them until they’re about to host 10 people.” Then the panic sets in. What is Butterkäse cheese?! How do I know if it’s gonna be good?! Yo