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At every party I’ve been to, the food that goes first is the bowl of dip. Whether it’s spinach-artichoke, bubbling-hot queso, or a packet of French onion, it’s the place everyone gathers around, dipping, sipping, and mingling. But there’s never enough mixture, so I decided to blow out my holiday party into an all-dips extravaganza. For the past three years, I’ve hosted an annual Dipmas, a holiday party that only serves, you guessed it, dips: hot, cold, sweet, savory, you name it. Some people bring a dish to pass; I make a few options; and anyone who feels they can’t “cook” donates booze or chips to the cause.

This is an ideal type of potluck if you don’t have a dining table or much space to entertain. I live in a studio apartment and once managed to cram 27 people in, with an astounding 16 dips served in a three-section rose gold slow cooker buffet (for the hot options) and in bowls on every flat surface in the house. Unlike a Friendsgiving, where you feel you need to have a seated meal, big platters of food, and matching forks and knives, this allows your friends to physically dip into the party whenever their schedules allow and eat with their hands. It’s the best way I know how to spread Christmas cheer. 

The Easy and Cheesy: French Onion Soup Dip

Upgrade the classic French onion dip by adding melt-y cheese to the equation. Get one of those Lipton packets everyone knows and loves and stir in ½ cup sour cream, ½ cup mayonnaise, and an 8-ounce block of softened cream cheese. Add in 1 cup shredded mozzarella, ½ cup grated Parmesan, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste, and pour into a baking dish. Top with more cheese and bake in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, until the top is browned and bubbly. Serve with toasted crostini to mimic the toast that comes in French onion soup. If you want to make this dip more upscale, caramelize onions instead of using the packet, which will make it much more flavorful and decadent. Serve hot.

The Iconic Dip That Must Not Be Forgotten: Buffalo Chicken Dip

No one really has an original recipe for Buffalo chicken dip, but this is the go-to one I can make in my sleep. Mix together an 8-ounce block of softened cream cheese with ½ cup ranch dressing, ½ cup crumbled blue cheese, 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, and ½ cup of Frank’s Red Hot or another Buffalo sauce. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes, or put into a slow cooker to let it heat through. This recipe easily doubles! Serve with tortilla chips and celery sticks.

To Get Some Vegetables In: Ricotta-Squash Dip

My friend Caroline Schiff, pastry chef extraordinaire at Gage and Tollner in Brooklyn, taught me this simple recipe, and it was the first to go at Dipmas 2019. Roast a pound of peeled and cubed butternut squash (I bought it precut because I was lazy) with olive oil, salt, pepper, and whole cloves of roasted garlic (still in the skin) at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes or until tender. In a food processor or blender, combine the roasted squash with 1 cup ricotta cheese and the roasted garlic (squeezed out of the papery skin) and blend until smooth. Top with roasted, salted pepitas; a drizzle of olive oil; and chopped parsley. Serve with flatbread, vegetables, or crackers. Serve at room temperature.

The Sweet: S’Mores Dip

To turn this campfire favorite into a dip, pour an entire bag of chocolate chips in a large buttered cast-iron skillet (or ovenproof pan). Top with a layer of marshmallows—bigger ones have a more wow-worthy presentation—and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes or until the chocolate is melted and marshmallows are golden brown. Serve with graham crackers for dipping (or fruit if you want to pretend to be healthy). Serve at room temp, but put back in the oven if the chocolate starts to harden.

Merry Dipmas to all, and to all a good night.

More holiday party ideas: How to Throw a Christmas Party for Under $100 8 Ways to Personalize Your Holiday Party Unexpected Holiday Tablescapes We Found on Pinterest