Tapas Dishes for the Perfect Christmas Party

Festive-Looking, Easy-to-Eat, Make-Ahead Tapas

With so many fabulous tapas, how did we choose which ones to recommend for a holiday party? First, the tapas had to have a "wow" factor – very colorful, or a special flavor. Second, they had to be easy to eat at a cocktail party – not a drippy, hard-to-hold mess. Last, most (if not all) of the preparation could be done ahead of time, so you'll have more time with your guests. This is the formula for the perfect Christmas tapas party!

We recommend staged servings. Set out two tapas every thirty minutes, essential if you are planning an open-house or drop-in style affair. Below each item on the list has a brief description, as well as serving suggestions for a larger party.

  • 01 of 06

    Melon con Jamon Serrano - Ham and Melon

    Ham and melon tapa

    Westend61 / Getty Images

    Salty and full of flavor, Serrano ham makes an excellent contrast with the sweet, juicy Honeydew melon. This tapa takes about 5 to 10 minutes to prepare and requires no cooking. The bright green melon contrasts nicely with the deep red ham, making a festive appearance.

  • 02 of 06

    Tortilla Espanola or Tortilla de Patata - Spanish Omelet

    Spanish Omelet (Tortilla Española)

    The Spruce

    The classic Spanish omelet makes the perfect party food. After making the omelet and allowing it to cool, cut into 2-inch squares and serve atop small slices of baguette. Keep the tortilla in place using a toothpick. For a variation, make an even more festive Christmas tapa by adding green peas and red peppers to the tortilla. 

  • 03 of 06

    Serrano Ham, Cheese & Chorizo with Bread Recipe - Jamón, Queso y Chorizo con Pan

    Bread, cheese and charcuterie Spanish holiday tapas.

    Lauren Aloise / Spanish Sabores

    This is a simple but delicious appetizer or tapa that everyone enjoys. It involves very little cooking and you can put it together at the last minute. Thinly cut Serrano ham, Manchego cheese and Spanish chorizo with bread slices. Add rubbed tomato and olive oil to the bread for an extra touch!

  • 04 of 06

    Gambas al Ajillo - Garlic Shrimp Tapa

    Spanish garlic shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)

    The Spruce

    One of the most common tapas of Spain, gambas al ajillo is quick, easy and FULL of garlic flavor. We recommend using smaller, peeled shrimp for a party, and serving in small clay pots or plates with lots of toothpicks and slices of baguettes for dipping in the sauce.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Fried Eggplant with Molasses Recipe - Berenjena Frita con Miel de Cana

    Eggplant with honey tapas recipe
    Sweet and savory eggplant and honey. atl10trader/Flickr CC

    A typical dish from Granada and Malaga areas of Andalucia, fried eggplant with molasses is quick, easy and inexpensive to prepare. Slice, flour and fry eggplant rounds. Drizzle molasses (miel de cana) or flavored honey over the top and serve.

  • 06 of 06

    Roasted Red Peppers in Oil, Vinegar and Garlic

    Festive roasted peppers

    Lauren Aloise / Spanish Sabores

    Roasted red piquillo peppers are marinated in Spanish extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, and minced garlic. Serve on a platter with a small fork, spoon, and toothpicks. Let your guests top baguette slices with a pepper and drizzle the oil and vinegar on the bread if they wish.