Between ten-hour workdays and torturous home workouts, you’ve been looking forward all week to unwinding at Julia’s dinner party. That is, until Julia calls in tears over her basement flooding, begging you to take on last-minute hosting duties.
Five hours until game time—what’s your move?
Last-minute hosting is an art that comes with practice and determination. But whether you’re a first-timer or a pro, we’ve got the tips to make impromptu hosting a breeze. Read on below for ways to throw the ultimate low-effort party.
#1 Think Before You Throw (a Party)
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Limited time doesn’t have to mean limited planning. Resist the temptation to run around like a chicken with its head cut off and take a few moments to collect your thoughts.
Unconfirmed guests? Shoot a few texts and set a definite headcount. Running to the grocery store with no plan? Pick your recipe and jot down a quick grocery list.
Use an app or just a regular notepad to make a list of priorities. Writing down a list can actually help you think and remember any products or items you need.
A few minutes of planning can save you several headaches down the line.
#2 Cut Cooking Time
More a Julie than a Julia? No worries. You don’t need six hours and a culinary degree to cook a stellar dinner. After all, a few drinks can make anything taste restaurant-quality.
Here are some tips to make food and refreshments a breeze for last-minute hosting:
- Keep Liquor Low-Key – Even in crunch-time, drinks can be festive yet simple. Stick to a minimal cocktail bar using just what’s on hand. Easier yet, just stick to wine (who will complain?).
- Potluck it – Make dinner a team effort and throw a potluck celebration! Everyone gets their chance to shine, and the heavy lifting is taken off your shoulders.
- Thirty-Minute Meals – Keep your recipe tasty and efficient with some trusty half-hour recipes. Place a curry, roast, or salad on the table in no time.
- Snacks and apps – Everyone loves a good cheese plate! Put out fresh-cut fruits, crackers, bread, jams, and cured meat. If you have time, you can artfully arrange these snacks. And if not, nobody will care anyway!
#3 Think Minimalism
Take a page out of the Swedes’ book and strip it down to the essentials. Decorations that are elegant and minimal will create a tasteful ambiance for your guests—not to mention cut down on your prep time.
The only items you need for a killer table set:
- Base Layer – Tablecloths or even cheap cloth table runners make everything a little fancier. Pick out a durable cotton variety that can blend into multiple seasons.
- Glassware – Here’s the one area where you can’t cut corners. Red solo cups are an easy clean-up, but not the most elegant. Use high-quality glasses that can double-duty for wine or water.
- Flowers – Top it all off with the quintessential centerpiece: a bouquet. When it comes to flower delivery same day arrivals are ideal—that way, you can save a trip to the store on an already busy day.
#4 Set the Mood
Put both your guests and yourself at ease by creating the perfect ambiance. This is where some intuition comes into play—there’s a big mood difference between a sunny outdoors brunch and an intimate dinner party.
Start with lighting and try out some warm-colored bulbs to cast a flattering glow on guests. Take it a step further with some festive candles to set both lighting and a lovely “scent-ual” element. Some light incense is another excellent option for sprucing up a room. Try not to pick scents that compete with the food you’re cooking. Neutral scents like lemongrass or vanilla are always a safe bet!
And of course, don’t forget to hit the music. A mini speaker is all you need to turn up the tunes in a smaller setting. Make sure that you find a great playlist or even let guests take a turn being the DJ!
Let It Go
Let go of the need to be a perfect host, and you will be an absolutely great one. We hope these four tips for last-minute hosting will turn a stressful, last-minute party into a soiree to remember.
Featured Image by Terri Cnudde from Pixabay