5 Last-Minute Party Tips

What to do when you’ve got people coming over in an hour.

Last Minute Party

1. Turn to your pre-stocked bar

Have a go-to signature cocktail recipe that you could craft in your sleep and keep the ingredients on hand for impromptu affairs, especially during the holidays. Amanda Gluck, the blogger behind Fashionable Hostess, suggests throwing together a quick batch and having a tray of them ready at the door as your guests arrive.

2. Keep the menu simple

If it’s before 4 p.m. (‘tis the season for afternoon drop-ins from out-of-town relatives), put on a pot of coffee and make a quick stop for premade cookie dough—the smell alone will set the mood. If it’s after 4 p.m., whip up that signature cocktail or run out for a bottle of wine and fixings for a quick appetizer (see our favorite speedy app ideas here!). Keep pretty serving pieces and cocktail napkins on-hand—they’ll elevate whatever you’re serving.

3. Use your entire space

If your place is small, arrange food and drinks throughout—a bar at the kitchen counter, a cheese plate on the coffee table, a tray of cookies on an accent table—to avoid people crowding around in one area. Amanda suggests leaving your stemware at the bar so guests can help themselves.

4. Throw it back

Remember when you were a kid and you could make paper snowflakes like nobody’s business? Put those skills to use—they’re surprisingly chic (if you need a refresher, look no further than Martha). Brit + Co has a few easy, unexpected ways to decorate with them.

5. Get creative with what you already have

Run a garland or a handful of ornaments from that big box of holiday decorations down the middle of the table. No flowers? No problem. Amanda recommends keeping an array of candles (at staggered heights!) on hand to create an eye-catching arrangement.

Images Courtesy of Ivanka Trump. Photographer: Kenneth Grzymala