There’s a time and a place for a recipe that calls for 357 different ingredients, but a dinner party isn’t one of them. We know you’ve got decorations to string up and cocktails to whip together, so you need a menu that’s short on prep time and long on the WOW factor. We’ve got you covered with these 17 entertaining-focused cookbooks that will have your guests crossing their fingers for leftovers and eagerly looking out for your next invite. Whether you’re hosting a cocktail party or a six-course affair this holiday season, grab one of these books stat.
1. The Big Dish ($23): Cooking for a big crowd? The “wow-factor” recipes in this book will leave your guests’ mouths hanging open… if they aren’t already stuffed with delicious dishes.
2. Seriously Simple Parties ($17): Pull out this book when you want to impress your guests with a decadent dinner that only seems like it took you hours to prepare. With menus organized by the season, your days of hunting for obscure, out-of-season ingredients are over.
3. Vegetarian Dinner Parties ($24): Meat doesn’t always have to be the main event. With recipes this good, you just might convert a few carnivores.
4. Wine Bites: Simple Morsels That Pair Perfectly With Wine ($17): Whether you’re dishing out the red or pouring the white, wine will always get the party going. Complement those glasses of grape-y goodness with these super simple hors d’oeuvres.
5. Tapas: Tantalizing Small Plates from the Mediterranean ($11): If you’ve got guests who are vegetarians, gluten free or have other food restrictions, then tapas are the perfect meal to serve. With so many recipes for “small plates” of big flavor that are meant to be shared, there’ll be plenty for everyone to munch on.
6. Tiny Food Party! Bite-Sized Recipes for Miniature Meals ($13): This cookbook proves that just because something is tiny doesn’t mean it can’t pack a powerful flavor punch. Everything is cuter when it’s tiny… and tastier too.
7. Dinner and a Movie ($13): Plan a major rewatch of your favorite movies with your besties or a romantic night in with your boo — whatever the occasion, you’ll love the themed recipes from this cookbook. It’s like grabbing a burger at a drive-in, only you don’t have to drive anywhere.
8. Good Food to Share ($50): Penned by the founder (aka food goddess) of Apartment Therapy‘s food blog, The Kitchn, Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan’s book is packed with inspiring recipes that’ll leave your family licking their plates.
9. Vegan for the Holidays ($16): Trust us, no one will miss the Christmas ham when you swap in meals from this cookbook.
10. Camille Styles Entertaining ($22): When we’re not admiring Camille Styles’ chic outfits or her party planning prowess, we’re drooling over her recipes. In this cookbook, she shares her party-worthy recipes, along with tips on decor and planning.
11. A Boat, a Whale, and a Walrus: Menus and Stories ($25): If you’re looking for more than just a book of recipes, then you’ll love Seattle restauranteur Renee Erickson’s cookbook. She shares some of her famed seafood-centric, seasonal menus, along with personal essays about her journey to becoming a James Beard-nominated chef.
12. Party Popcorn: 75 Creative Recipes for Everyone’s Favorite Snack ($12): The ultimate party snack gets elevated in this collection of recipes. Don’t set out a bowl before your guests arrive, because you just might eat all the delish popcorn yourself.
14. Make It Ahead ($21): We’ll admit it: We totally bow down to the culinary genius that is Ina Garten. She knows that the secret to any good dinner party is getting all the cooking done before the party starts. You’ll be thanking her when you hang your apron up before your guests arrive.
15. Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi ($21): When vegetables taste this good, you better make a ton, or else there won’t be plenty to pass around. (Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves!)
16. Kinfolk: Recipes for Small Gatherings ($35): The thoughtful dishes in this book are perfect for celebrating simply with close friends.
17. Homemakers ($14): Of course, no hostess’s shelf would be complete without a copy of Homemakers, Brit’s very own book coming out in March! It’s not *all* recipes (it’s also packed full of hosting, DIY and beauty tips!) but it definitely has everything you need to pull your dinner party (and home!) together. Pre-order your copy now.
Which entertaining cookbook will you be devouring ahead of your holiday celebrations? Tell us in the comments below!