Inviting groups of friends round to your house is a lovely way to spend an evening. But when you get to the planning stage - where will everyone sit, have we got enough wine and most importantly, what food to make to impress your friends when they arrive - it can seem like a nightmare.
So it's great to have a few recipes for tasty dips up your sleeve. Whether you're having a sit-down dinner, or a party, welcoming your guests with some home made dip gets the evening off to a great start. Best of all, dips can be made in advance and pulled out of the fridge in a nonchalant way, as if to say "I do this all the time."
Here are our favourite dips - healthy, indulgent, and even sweet - to serve up before you sit down and relax.
Seven layer bean dip
Image: cookingclassy.com, via Pinterest
If buying tubs of salsa and guacamole has got boring, this beautiful Mexican-inspired dip will go just as well with nachos, but looks ten times more attractive with its layers of sour cream, salsa and guacamole - and is super easy to put together.
Reese's Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Dip
Image: shugarysweets.com, via Pinterest
As all-American as they come, this mix of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and cookie dough and cream cheese will make an indulgent dessert alternative if your baking skills aren't the best. If you can't find Peanut Butter Cups or Cookie Dough easily, lumps of cooking chocolate and peanut butter will make a great subsitute.
Spinach and artichoke dip
Image: natashaskitchen.com, via Pinterest
This dip is seriously addictive - mainly thanks to its huge cheese consistency - but the addition of spinach and artichokes gives it the sort of sophistication that could that almost convince you it's healthy. It apparently makes a fantastic pasta sauce too.
Image: countrycleaver.com, via Pinterest
Ok, we admit, this is basically a chocolate fondue, but that's exactly what makes it so delicious. The added marshmallows give the s'more element, and it's perfect for dipping almost anything, from crackers to fruit, into. Delicious.
Skinny Vegetable Dip
Image: bunsinmyoven.com, via Pinterest
As an alternative to that tub of tzatziki that always ends up in your trolley during the weekly shop, this mix of olives, red peppers and jalepenos with cream cheese is super easy to make but gives a kick and a crunch to any crackers, or raw vegetables that you choose to dip into it.
Caramelised onion with bacon and gruyere dip
Image: spicysouthernkitchen.com, via Pinterest
You may not even need to serve dinner if you begin with this indulgent dip. Caramelised onions, bacon and melted gruyere will go perfectly with French bread, and the rich flavours will mean that the only trouble is resisting filling yourself up.
Strawberry Avocado Pico de Gallo
Image: damndelicious.net, via Pinterest
Pimp your Mexican cooking with this fruity Pico de Gallo. With strawberry, mango and avocado combined with the traditional lime and coriander flavours, it's a fresh tasting alternative to a shop-bought dip, and would even go well alongside a main dish as well as with tortillas.
Lemon cheesecake dip
Image: folksfoodandfun.net, via Pinterest
It's so simple and ingenious, we're annoyed we didn't come up with it ourselves - using the componants for a lemon cheesecake topping for a delicious dip. Serve with biscuits for a delicious dessert that will, almost literally, turn the cheesecake on its head.
Image: miomiom.eklablog.com, via Pinterest
Houmous, hummus, however you spell it, there's no denying it's probably the world's most popular dip. Making your own homemade version, then, is difficult to make original, but this beetroot recipe dyes the dip a beautiful shade of pink, and adds a sweet tangy flavour to the dip - a surefire way to impress.