How to Throw a Last-Minute Party

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You may want to entertain a small group of close friends but just can't find any time to prepare. The good news is there's no need for despair. With some basic ingredients on hand, you can throw together a last-minute party that will be enjoyable for all your guests. The key is to keep things very simple. With a bit of ingenuity and organization, before you know it, you'll have a very successful event on your hands.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper plates Napkins Serving utensils Punch bowl Chips Cookies
  • Send out invites over email or make some phone calls to give people the details. You don't need to send formal invitations in the mail for a last-minute event. Make sure to let guests know your party will be casual and laid back so they will dress accordingly.

  • Plan your party for later in the afternoon or evening so you won't be obligated to serve a complete meal. Instead, invite guests to join you for some snacks and fun. Or, have a "desserts only" event and put out platters of cookies, brownies and cupcakes for everyone.

  • Serve easy-to-eat food for a snack affair like pizza, small finger sandwiches, chicken wings or skewers, mini hotdogs and humus and pita bread. These things don't require seats at a table. Set out the food in a central location and let guests help themselves. You can also opt for prepared platters of appetizers like you can find at your local supermarket like Stop & Shop. Or, take advantage of specials at pizza places that deliver pizza, wings and other finger foods right to your door.

  • Request that guests bring their favorite appetizer or dessert. This is an easy way to make sure you will have a good mix of food. Have plenty of serving utensils on hand to make it easy for guests to take what they want.

  • Make a big bowl of punch (with alcohol or without) and a pitcher of lemonade for your guests and suggest people bring anything else they may want. This is an easy and inexpensive way to make sure everyone's needs are met.

  • Opt for paper plates and napkins and keep your good china put away. This will keep setup to a minimum and also allow you to keep cleanup quick and simple. You can buy party supplies at discount houses like Target and Walmart or online party stores like The Party Warehouse.

  • Put out plenty of folding chairs around your house and even some big throw cushions so there will be plenty of places where guests can relax.

  • Play your favorite music in the background to give a more festive atmosphere. For added effect, put out some clusters of balloons, vases of flowers or even light some candles and dim the overhead lights.

  • Enjoy yourself and don't fuss about details. Remember that people are there to socialize, not to look too closely at your housekeeping or critique your food spread.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure to have a non-alcoholic drink option for guests who prefer not to indulge. Host your party outdoors if weather permits. Just have bug spray handy for your guests.
  • Don't stress about giving your home an intensive spring cleaning before your last-minute event. As long as your dirty dishes are done and your rugs are vaccumed, your home is likely clean enough for guests.
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