Make your next gathering a fondue party for a get together your friends or family won’t soon forget!

Fondue is a fun conversation starter that gets people talking and laughing over dripping cheese, delicious breads and chocolate-covered dessert. Keep your fondue party guest list small, so there’s no uncomfortable crowding around pots and platters.

Depending on your plan for the evening and your affinity for chopping vegetables and slicing fruits, you can choose to highlight fondue for a single course, such as starting with a beer cheese appetizer or serving a dark chocolate fountain for dessert. Or, celebrate the fondue theme and serve three courses of dipped menu items.

Regardless of the number of fondue options, you’ll want to add a few other foods to pair with your dips. Fondue of any variety is heavy, so a lighter option like a vinaigrette-dressed salad will be much appreciated by guests.

Gather Your Fondue Tools

Before you get too far into party planning, make sure you have enough pots to hold each of the fondues you plan to serve. There are many fondue-specific pots, either electric-powered or heated by Sternos, available. For most types of fondue, a slow cooker or a pot on the stove are also acceptable.

You’ll also need plenty of dippers (some will inevitably be dropped and misplaced) with some way to tell them apart. Many fondue sets are color coded. You can also use wooden skewers.

Display your various breads, vegetables, meats and desserts on platters so it’s easy for guests to skewer and dip them. You’ll want to use tablecloths that can be washed and offer plenty of napkins. Fondue is fun, but it’s also messy.

Choose Your Fondues

There are hundreds of fondue recipes available. You really can’t go wrong with melted cheese and chocolate, so any recipe that sounds good probably is!

Cheese Fondue

For a traditional fondue, combine Swiss cheeses like gruyere and Emmentaler with dry white wine. This decadent all-purpose combination pairs well with dozens of foods. Popular options include crusty breads, steamed or roasted vegetables, cured salami and hardy crackers. For more unique dipping, consider adding jalapenos, apples and pickles to your platters.

For a truly impressive fondue party, serve another cheese fondue. Beer cheese (gruyere, Dijon mustard and beer) is delicious with pretzel bites, roasted potatoes and broccoli. Pimento cheese (cheddar, pepper vinegar and roasted red pepper) is an adult take on queso that tastes great with tortilla chips, peppers and olives.

The Main Course

While cheese and chocolate are the most often talked about fondues, it’s possible to serve a fondue-based main course as well. Dipping raw meats and vegetables into hot oil or broth cooks them almost instantaneously. This method works well with meats like beef, chicken and shrimp. To add flavor to the cooked meats, flavor your oil or broth and offer dipping sauces.

Dessert Fondue Ideas

Perhaps the most popular of the fondue courses, dessert fondue parties are always a good idea. Classic chocolate fondue, whether milk, dark, white or orange, pairs well with lots of dippers, from fruit to marshmallows. Try strawberries, bananas, cream puffs, Rice Krispies Treats, pretzels and pound cake.

A fondue party’s dessert doesn’t have to stop at chocolate. Molten caramel is delicious with apple and pear slices or cheesecake bites. Melted peanut butter is the perfect pair for bite-sized brownies. A fountain of cake batter with graham crackers and wafer thins for dipping is a party all by itself!