An open house is all about a great first impression. And what makes a better first impression than the food? These open house food ideas are sure to impress!
But an open house isn’t just any party, either. Your open house food has to make potential buyers feel welcome, at home, and ready to browse.
Food ensures that potential buyers and potential clients stay longer. But there are good choices and bad.
Let’s take a look at 12 of the best open house food ideas for getting potential clients in the door — and keeping them there.
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How Open House Food Ideas Need to Change
It’s a different world. Just a few years ago, people would eat from a communal cheese tray without a second thought. Today, not so much. The reality is that a lot of open house food is going to go untouched if people feel uncomfortable eating around strangers.
When you offer open house food, think to partition it safely. Whatever you’re serving, put it in small paper cups that people can grab, or even individually wrap the items, if you have time.
You always want people to feel comfortable and safe when hosting an open house — not wondering what’s already been in the dipping sauce or how long the chicken or shrimp cocktail has been out. With that in mind, here are some of the best open house food ideas.
1. The Old Standby: Cookies
Cookies are often at open houses because they taste great and because they smell great. Consider baking a variety of cookies and leaving them out on a platter.
Start with a regular cookie base and you can add all sorts of things: chocolate chips, caramel chips, or mint chips. This lets you create flavor variety without having to spend a lot of time on it.
You can purchase small plastic packets to put cookies in and put a label with your logo on it. As prospective buyers/clients leave, offer them a few extra cookies. Not only does it go a long way toward developing a relationship of reciprocity, but it gives them something to remember you by.
Charcuterie is a classic. But, again, people are a little more hesitant today about grabbing food from a shared plate, especially when that plate has been shared amongst 20 strangers. Take some time to make your open house charcuterie board safe.
Little cups of meat and cheese are a great way to start an evening. Charcuterie is known for its fancy presentation, and you can bring that fancy presentation to small single-serving bowls. This can be as fancy as you want it to be: it can be sliced ham and cheddar or prosciutto and goat cheese. Add some fresh fruit on the side, as these can get quite heavy.
3. Puff Pastries
Puff pastries are another dessert that’s great because you can customize them. Add different fillings, such as chocolate or strawberries, to different puff pastries and throw them in to bake. Just make sure to serve your puff pastry with a plate if you don’t want it to flake all over the house.
Like cookies, brownies can be customized. You can add more chocolate to them, add caramel, or add butterscotch. Add nuts to some brownies and don’t add nuts to others. Everyone will find something that they like.
Brownies can be individually wrapped and will last quite a long time. Send guests off with these to expand your marketing efforts. Any extras make a great, small gift to your clients.
5. Finger Sandwiches
An array of finger sandwiches is perfect for those who want to provide some more substantial fare while still letting guests wander around, talk, and browse. Finger sandwiches often disappear and because they’re finger food, guests won’t feel bad lingering and getting more.
Finger sandwiches won’t last forever, so a good trick is to have a few trays in the fridge. Bring them out in batches as the open house goes on.
Pinwheels are a great appetizer: they’re easy to make and everyone loves them. Filled with rolled-up cream cheese, meat, and other ingredients, you can find a pinwheel recipe for practically any taste (even better, you can purchase them from the market already prepped).
Like sandwiches, you should put a few small trays of pinwheels in the fridge and just bring a new one out as needed, depending on how many people attend the open house. Add variety to make sure everyone walks away with something they wanted.
7. Roasted Nuts
Easy appetizers, roasted nuts nevertheless have a bit of sophisticated flair. Get some roasted nuts, toss them in cinnamon and sugar, and place them in individual cups. include toasted pecans, toasted cashews, and toasted almonds for some variety.
Roasted nuts are great because they aren’t just celebratory; they’re surprisingly heavy. Guests will feel full quickly and will feel energized enough to think about the property they’re viewing.
8. Festive Popcorn
Popcorn is a great snack and it can be taken with them. Consider bagging your own popcorn in small bags and adding your logo and contact information to the bag. Make multiple flavors: kettle corn, caramel corn, and cheese.
Soft pretzels and hard pretzels are both great snacks for open houses. Consider dipping some in salt and some in chocolate to create savory and sweet treats. Little cups full of dipping sauce (whether it’s cinnamon and frosting or cheese) will give pretzels a little more of a “finish” and show that you put thought into it.
10. Baked Chips
You can bake sweet potato chips, avocado chips, or even eggplant chips, for a fast, easy snack while on the go. While you want people to enjoy the food, you also want them to walk around the house and think about how it appeals to them.
11. Mini Nachos
Get bowl-shaped tortilla chips and fill them with meat, red pepper, cheese, and sauce. Each of these chips becomes its own little mini nacho platter, though you should make sure the contents are fairly well-cooked and dry (baking is a great idea, with some shredded cheese on top).
You can make vegetarian skewers from mozzarella cheese and tomatoes and meat skewers with sausages and cheese. Skewers are great because people can walk around while holding them, but they still have a substantial amount of food on them.
What Makes Great Open House Food Ideas?
You can’t just translate any holiday party or graduation party food ideas directly to an open house. There are things like cheese dip, meatballs, pasta salad, stuffed mushrooms, and potato salad that just don’t go well in this environment.
The best open house food ideas will:
- Incorporate some level of variety. You can have multiple flavors of cookies, brownies, or pretzels. That means that everyone get ssomething they want, but you also don’t need to make a ton of different fishes for each open house.
- Be as shelf-stable as possible. You don’t want your charcuterie platter sitting out all day, but, well, the meat is already cured. An open house can go on for a few hours and the last thing you want is to give your guests food poisoning from tomato soup.
- Be finger foods. They need to be able to grab their food or dessert and walk around the house. Otherwise, they’re going to start lingering around the kitchen and they may never leave.
- Not be messy. Whipped cream, sour cream, deviled eggs; they’re all old standbys, but they’re actually not great for a roaming open house. While you can keep chili in a crockpot, how many guests will really feel comfortable eating chili from a communal bowl?
At the same time, consider adding some drinks to the mix. Hot chocolate, wine, egg nog, cider, and sodas will all make guests feel a little more comfortable.
What kind of food do you serve at an open house?
Standards include chips, dip, vegetable platters, cold cuts, sushi platters, and soft drinks. In recent days, though, you also want an emphasis on separate containers, separately packaged meals, and finger foods.
How do you plan food for an open house?
Create an open house menu when you plan your open house. Think about the season, the theme, and what will be easiest on you — after all, you’re going to have a lot to juggle already.
Should you bake cookies for an open house?
This is really a more old-fashioned idea; skip the baking and just put some treats out. While the smell of fresh-baked cookies is wonderful, it’s just an additional stressor (and most people aren’t going to be on time, anyway).
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