I'm in charge of making all the hors d'oeuvres for a Christmas cocktail party that my parents are throwing. I'm looking for some suggested recipes or even just even favorite dishes from restaurants I can try to improvise. I really want to go balls out because I live in a small NYC apartment and I don't have the kitchen set-up or space to make really great and interesting food. This provides me a rare opportunity to do basically whatever I want in a professional kitchen and not foot the bill either. Basically I need to make hors d'oeuvres/snacks for 30-40 people. I was thinking 4-6 different ones with different main ingredients. They must be able to be 90% prepped in advance, all I'll really be able to do is heat them up or add a finishing touch. These people are all middle/middle upper class Minnesota suburbanites, who appreciate good food as much as the next guy, but they're definitely not foodies, so I don't want anything too fancy that won't be appreciated. I'm especially looking for dishes that are a really cool and surprising twist on a classic.
Basically this is what I'm thinking now in broad terms (I need your specific suggestions):
1. Something salty and starchy like (some kind of chips/pretzels like thing but with an interesting twist. Maybe with a dip
2. Seafood based dish. I make a tuna tartar (cliche these days I know) thats a crowd pleaser, but I've made it twice for this group before and am looking for something new. Maybe shrimp or crab or a fish besides tuna or salmon that can be served raw.
3. Cheeses. Pretty much settled on this one. Going to use some sweet compliments ala Mario Batali. At Otto, the cheese plate is served with a plate with black pepper honey, apricot chutney, and real maraschino cherries. Unique and delicious.
4. Something with duck (not fois gras)
5. Something with lamb or beef.
6. A couple of sweet things but nothing too heavy or complicated. Thinking of something carmel and crunchy and something based on something very familiar with a twist (like the deconstructed Snickers bar at Per Se or maybe some kind of fancy version of oreos)
I'm open to any suggestions from any category though. I just want it to be interesting and different.