We've extended our festive party food range to make it easy for party hosts this Christmas. Our product development manager Sarah Denyer tells us more...

Life can be pretty hectic at this time of year, so we set out to develop a range of canapés that will make it easy for customers entertaining at Christmas to delight their guests ... and enjoy the party as much as everyone else!

The nice thing about our canapés is that there's something for everyone – we've got a huge variety of flavours to choose from.

We asked customers what would help them and, based on their feedback, developed a hand-finished range ready to go straight to table, either cold or hot from the oven. Last Christmas we had a range of kits which customers assembled themselves which people told us were delicious but a bit fiddly to prepare. So for this year we focused on doing the hard work for customers ourselves, so they don’t have to worry about it.

That’s why this year all our range cooks at the same temperature – 200 C – making it easy to prepare different canapés together.

We start thinking about Christmas 12 months ahead and I’ve been in London with our inspiration team this week, looking for ideas for Christmas 2018. More on that later!

Some of the ideas for this year came from spending time with canapé chefs and party organisers to gain insight into favourite recipes on their menus. From this we developed the Mini Beef Wellingtons and Pulled Pork Waffles as well as the retro favourite Vol-au-Vonts.

We’re also offering people more choice, with a new range of Extra Special frozen dishes and an extended selection of chilled Extra Special canapés. I think the range is more exciting, with vibrant flavours and colours. We set out to ensure these bite-sized pieces are flavour-packed and look amazing on the table, as with canapés presentation and flavour are everything. Take a look at our party food range here.

One of our main themes this year is the Mini Me’s – smaller versions of favourite British main courses like Beef Wellington, Cottage Pie, and Beef Yorkshire Puddings. We’ve also taken inspiration from around the globe, including Mexico, Japan and Thailand. People are becoming more adventurous and have a considerable desire to learn more about different foods, so we've reflected that with things like Steamed Dim Sum, Tempura Jumbo Prawns and our Pan-Asian selection.

The UK has seen an explosion in the number of pan-Asian restaurants springing up in our towns and cities, and people are becoming more familiar with the flavour and style of cooking.

Mexican food is also really popular and looks really fresh and inviting. I think our customers will be excited about the Extra Special Mexican selection with mini taco, torta and fajita. They look and taste great, but if you want to turn them into a real showstopper you can dress up with wedges of lime and Asda’s Salsa and Guacamole.

And don’t forget about dessert! Canapés do sweet just as well as savoury – and we have a range of fantastic mini favourites like the Extra Special Macaron Selection I'm sampling in the picture above or these Melt In The Middle Mini Puddings in our frozen section for the perfect end to the occasion.

I mentioned earlier that we’ve been exploring some of London’s food markets, restaurants and department stores for inspiration. There are a few trends from the trip that I hope to see reflected in our party food range next Christmas, including more vegan, vegetarian and plant-based choices. I'm also looking into healthier versions of popular dishes like a larger Free From range, some more luxurious items like lobster, maybe some Middle Eastern influences ... and even Christmas canapés for breakfast!

This year’s range will be in stores from 14th December and the Extra Special range will be available until 31st January so customers can party into the New Year. I’m looking forward to hearing what customers think about our range and if they’ve got any ideas on how we can improve of ranges for next year.

However you’re celebrating, and however many people you entertain, I hope you and your loved ones have a very merry Christmas!