Having a good mix of appetizers and main course dishes, is a key for successful party planning. Ideally, appetizers which are dry (not dripping with gravy), should be served. Of course, the kind of food that is served at a kids' party is quite different from the recipes which are served at an adult's birthday occasion.
Ideas for Kids' Parties
Appetizers should be simple and attractive to look at. Well presented dishes in different shapes and sizes attracts the kids. Select both savory and sweet items for such occasions. You do not need to serve fancy restaurant style food, as the kids are happy with familiar items like mini pizzas and sausage rolls. Other examples are given here.
Ideas for Adult's Parties
In such cases, you need recipes which are more elegant and sophisticated like oysters, caviar, wasabi, and marinated black olives. Their presentation and appearance should be pleasing to the eye. If you are serving cheese straws, chips, and nachos, then they should be paired with creamy dips and salsas.
Food items which are bite sized and served in skewers, or stacked in crostinis and bruschetta are perfect for such functions. An Italian, Spanish, or Mediterranean theme works best, as you have a lot of flexibility with the kind of appetizers you can prepare. Some excellent examples are given here.
If you are not able to prepare so many recipes, then you can combine store-bought items like roasted bell peppers and marinated olives, with homemade appetizers.