10 Tips for Hosting a Last-Minute Party

There are a lot of reasons for hosting a last-minute party, especially this time of year.

  • Football games
  • Holidays
  • College student visits
  • Birthdays
  • Out-of-town guests

We don’t have any kids away at college right now but we do celebrate holidays in a big way, even the little ones. We want to be ready, any time of the year, to entertain and host a good event, even in a few minutes notice! Get out the decorations, cook some themed food and call in the friends and family; they all know when we host, it’s going to be a fun party.

If you’re the one that always ends up hosting parties, how do you pull it together without breaking the bank or taking too much time out of your already busy schedule? Here are my top ten tips for hosting a last-minute party that will have you ready in no time to open the doors and enjoy time with your friends!

1. Plan ahead. Assume you’ll have last-minute parties and buy things along the way. It spreads out the expense and no more last-minute trips to the store where you’re paying too much and still maybe not getting what you want. Keep a list of the things you need to get started and keep it on you; update as necessary so you’re never making a trip just for party things. Once you get in the habit of this, it becomes part of your regular shopping routine.

2. Design a party planning storage area. Big plastic tubs with lids in a specific area in the garage or the under-the-stairs hiding place works, as long as everyone knows where to look in a rush.

3. Make some permanent purchases. Not everything needs to be dollar store. We’ve ended up with a huge selection of wine, champagne and other cocktail glasses by buying the nice glass options when we see them on sale. Home Goods, Marshall’s and Ross are great places to shop; their selection changes weekly, if not more frequently, and you can find unique pieces of serving ware like platters and cake displays for low prices. This last week, I found an adorable little cupcake stand for $1.99!

4. Create a last-minute parties Pinterest board. See something that looks like a fast appetizer or spontaneous entree? Pin it! Cool way to fold a napkin? You’ll have it handy when the need arises.

5. Organize your favorite ideas into one three-ring binder: recipes, guest names/numbers, special requirements, stores where you’ve located hard-to-find items are just a few page ideas.

6. Install a good calendar app on your phone. I even enter what shopping errands I’m running and when.

7. Keep a few party food items on hand: easy appetizer ingredients should always be in your pantry, so if not, pick them up along the way as they are on sale. A good bottle or two of white wine and red wind, a good mixer (Club Soda, cranberry juice) and a few basic alcohols — if you drink or don’t mind serving it for guests — will give you an easy bar menu.

8. Stock up on small gifts or game prizes. Keep them by your gift wrapping supplies so you can throw a pretty candle into a gift bag in a flash.

9. Purchase a few basic party games. Cards, dice and things like Cards Against Humanity, if your crowd is up for it, can get the party going.

10. When planning ahead, think about all the little things, like tablecloths, forks, napkins, etc. I keep a stash of dollar-store plastic tablecloths on hand in every color, and after a holiday, I buy clearance napkins, cups and other holiday-related items for next year. Some things never go out of style and you know you’ll use them.

Hosting parties, especially last-minute parties, don’t need to stress you out. Prepare ahead of time and you’ll be able to easily entertain and play hostess in a flash!

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