Your Guide to Last-Minute Party Planning

You can pull off a last-minute party with ease—when you keep the following in mind.

There’s a special art to throwing a successful last-minute event. It requires a little planning and organization to make it happen with style and ease, but more importantly, throwing a last-second affair (without making yourself crazy!) largely comes down to your ability to let your normal entertaining-at-home etiquette slide. We’re not suggesting that you throw all party-planning ideas out the window; merely that you take a realistic approach to feeding hordes of unexpected guests. Your ability to roll with the punches and adapt to the circumstances will stand you in good stead when it comes to putting your home on the market, too. Unexpected knock from a potential home buyer? No problem!

Here are some tips on pulling off a successful last-second soiree.

Be realistic.

If you have just a few hours (or minutes) before your guests are showing up, your goal is to be ready to welcome them when they arrive—not to be elbow-deep in a complicated recipe for homemade dinner rolls when the doorbell rings. Don’t try to do too much when you don’t have enough time; these kinds of gatherings are meant to be informal and relaxed, so make sure the food and the setting—and you—are, too. Know how quickly you like to work in the kitchen and plan the menu around what you can easily accomplish on short notice. Your guests will know (and appreciate) that you haven’t had much time to prepare.

Don’t apologize for serving take-out food.

It’s the company and atmosphere that are most important. Most guests would far prefer great company and mediocre food than the opposite—and many take-out options are unexpectedly delicious. If nothing else, you can rest assured that your kitchen won’t be filled with dirty pots and pans when your guests arrive. Leftover paper and plastic take-out containers are a cinch to whisk out of sight and straight into the garbage can!

Choose foods that can be made ahead and reheated, or are easy to fix at the last minute.

We’ve all thrown parties where we’ve spent the majority of the time in the kitchen, trying frantically to pull off some dish meant to impress our guests. This is not the party to try that trick. Stick to tried-and-true, easy recipes that don’t require much work to plate and serve. Foods that are designed to be served cold or at room temperature are good choices, as are those that you can make the night (or morning) before. If you can arrange them on a platter or serving dish before they go in the fridge, all the better. And don’t underestimate the value of keeping the ingredients for a quick dip or salsa on hand. Sometimes a quick Romesco dip—made with jarred roasted red peppers—can really save the day.

Don’t be afraid to buy something from the bakery for dessert.

No one will bat an eye if you pull out a cake or tart from the bakery for your party. Feel free to embellish it with fresh fruit, nuts, sprinkles or whipped cream if you like. Or, simply pass a plate of fresh fruit, nuts, and chocolates.

Prep your table in advance.

If possible, set the table the night before the party, and place beverages in the refrigerator to chill overnight. You can also take a buffet-style approach, and stack napkins and silverware in jars for guests to pick up as they go through the serving line.

Strawberry & Brie Bites

 Yield: 12 servings

Servings: 12

Serving Size: 1 skewer

Active Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

To Make Ahead: Hold (without glaze) at room temperature for up to 1 hour or refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

Equipment: 12 appetizer-size skewers or toothpicks

Recipe Description:

Strawberries, Brie cheese, fresh basil and balsamic vinegar come together in this addictive one-bite appetizer recipe.

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 12 small fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 12 fresh basil leaves
  • 3 ounces Brie cheese, cut into 12 small pieces (about 1/2-by-1-inch)
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic glaze (see Tip)

Recipe Steps:

  1. Thread a strawberry, basil leaf and piece of cheese onto each of 12 toothpicks.
  2. Drizzle with balsamic glaze just before serving.

Recipe Tips & Notes:

  • Balsamic glaze is balsamic vinegar that’s cooked until it’s very thick. Look for it with other vinegars in well-stocked supermarkets. Or make it yourself by boiling 1 cup balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until syrupy and reduced to about 1/4 cup, 10 to 14 minutes.

Recipe Nutrition:

Per serving: 28 calories; 2 g fat (1 g sat, 1 g mono); 7 mg cholesterol; 1 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 1 g total sugars; 2 g protein; 0 g fiber; 45 mg sodium; 28 mg potassium.

Source:  Reprinted from

Teamwork from the Team that works –Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

Search For a Home