While friends and family are exchanging greetings and you are welcoming them to your home, an appetizer is a wonderful way to bring guests to your dining room, living room or, in the case of a less formal gathering, your kitchen. People naturally gather around food. For a large gathering, have plates of appetizers set in several locations, and ask someone to exchange the locations of the plates periodically to give everyone a chance to try different items. Generally speaking, this is the time to choose finger food that can be easily consumed without utensils. Small napkins and plates should be kept near the appetizer plate to give your guests a way to handle any food that’s on the slightly messy side. Appetizers buy you some time to finish food preparations and are typically some of the easiest food to fix ahead and refrigerate just ahead of the appointed gathering hour. What are your favorite meal starters? Tell us how you like to greet family and friends with food.