My (almost) French Life

Entertain Like the French: French Apéro Party Ideas

If you’ve ever been to France, you know that the “apéro” is a way of life. L’apéro, short for “apéritif” is as French as champagne. In the land of long sit-down dinners with five courses, the apéro is a fun, casual event that can be put together at a moment’s notice. I’m excited to share all you need to know about throwing the perfect apéro dinner party with these French Apéro Party Ideas.

What is “l’apero”? 

The “apéro” comes from the word “aperitif” which is the drink one has before dinner. It is common in France to invite someone over for an “apéro” or meet friends for a drink before dinner.

Since the French have very strict rules about when to eat what, (ie. You’d never eat outside the “times” of eating appropriate meals, but that is a story for another post) the apéro is a way to meet someone to “boire un verre” if you already have plans for dinner or must be home for dinner. It’s sort of like a happy hour, but it can extend to one’s home.

The “apéro dinatoire” is what the apéro become when it replaces dinner. (If you’re invited to just an apéro, don’t expect to be fed!) The apéro dinatoire isn’t a sit down dinner with multiple courses, as is the standard in France, rather it is a smorgasbord of adorably and beautifully presented foods that are bite size. They usually include little sandwiches, fine cuts of charcuterie meats, nuts and crackers, sometimes, tiny skewers, sausages, and other meat items. The presentation is always, well, beautiful and chic, très French.

You can also host like the French and throw your own apéro party!

First, have the right cutlery!  

I love the bit size “verrines” which are little glasses (the word comes from VERRE, which is glass) and tiny spoons that many of the apéro foods are served with in France. (If you want to find out more about what verrines are, check out this article.)

You can find some of these in Party City has the tiny glasses and these tiny spoons (or this entire appetizer party pack) or you can order these little “shot glasses” for appetizers on Amazon. 

As for serving dishes, anything goes, again, it’s a smorgasbord! Look at some of these beautiful presentations: 

French apero party food
This is an apéro dinatoire that my friends from Apéro Cheer put together for us, in Paris this summer.

What should the decor look like at an apéro party? 

If you’re serving at night, you can have candlelight (not recommended if you have young children). Twinkle lights are also pretty! 

Because the apéro is a French concept, I love infusing some of that into our apéros when we have them here at home in NYC. So, provençal or Parisian inspired dishes or trays, for example. 

What should I serve Here are some ideas on what to serve:

  1. Little sandwiches
  2. Dips like hummus, tzatziki, with (fancy) crackers.
  3. Nuts
  4. Dried fruit
  5. Olives
  6. Bite size sausages or little hot dogs 
  7. Stuffed peppers
  8. Small slices of pizza
  9. Proscuitto and other meats
  10. Tapenade (olive dip from Provence) 
  11. Cut up veggies
  12. Anchovies or smoked salmon 

What drinks should be served at a French apéro dinner party? 

In France, champagne is a common drink for apéro. You can also serve flavored seltzer water, beer, and juices. 

apero drinks
Pastis is an anise flavored liquor from Marseilles. It is very popular for the apéro in France.

Finally, have fun! 

The apéro is meant to be a casual, fun and festive dinner party, where you can get up, move around, and chat with others. 

Bon Appétit! 

READ RELATED: HOW TO THROW A RACLETTE DINNER PARTY

Diana Limongi
Diana a mom, activist, nonprofit professional, podcaster and writer from Queens, NY. She writes about motherhood, activism, raising my multilingual kids, culture and travel. She and her multicultural family live in Queens, NY.

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