last minute entertaining

Still hazy from the holiday gatherings, I can safely say I’ve managed to gain some expertise in entertaining guests, putting up simple décor for the dinner table, and serving dishes and drinks that are easy to prepare and lighter on the pocket.

Party hosting entails a great deal of planning. No less than a month for major parties, such as first birthdays or family reunions. The more time you have to organize and prepare, the less money you’ll spend. Most of the time, and I’d like to say this with some air of authority, the biggest cashouts are those made for unplanned and unforeseen expenses. So if you’re planning to host something major this year, you better grab your pens and start listing stuff down.

Here’s my list of foolproof ideas for making party hosting a seamless act.

Make starters and enders ahead of time. Whether you plan to serve tea sandwiches, pastries or fresh fruits as appetizers and desserts, think of something that can be prepared ahead but still taste fresh when taken out of the fridge, reheated from the oven or left sitting on your countertop all day. This gives you a big head start for preparing and serving your main dishes which are in fact the life of your party.

Request your guests to bring the bottle. Choosing which drinks to serve is a commonly tough decision point in party planning. Do you serve hard liquor, wine or beer? Carbonated drinks, cocktails or fresh fruit juice? Each guest will have his/her own beverage preference. And if you can’t afford to buy all types of quenchers, I suggest you mix up a safe cocktail, set up your goblets and ice buckets and leave some space in the bar for your guests to contribute a bottle of their favourite drink. This way, guests enjoy their booze and you save on cash.

Take away a house specialty. One of the biggest party hoaxes you can try is to order at least one main course from a local restaurant. Pick one or two of their blockbuster dishes and arrange them nicely on your own serving platters. This not only saves you a lot of time but you can even come off as a much better cook than you actually are.

Strike a match and push that button. The soft glow of lighted candles and relaxing music can definitely set the mood for your party. Be sure to buy several nicely scented candles and come up with a quick music playlist a day or two before the party. Aside from having music to listen to and a relaxing aroma while you cook, you’re sure to have the mood set once the doorbell rings and guests start pouring in.

Fancy up the dinner table. An eye-catching centerpiece (in addition to well-plated food) is sure to win your guests. No need to spend for expensive floral arrangements. A potted plant from your garden, freshly picked greens in a vase, a basket of colourful fruits and a matching table runner will make the dinner table the best invitation of all. Although you may expect your guests to be spending an extended time over the dinner table because of this.

Make cleanup a breeze. If you find yourself still preparing the food half an hour before the party, you’ll surely not have time to do some major pre-party cleaning. Give yourself a good ten minutes to put clutter in their proper place and stash the rest inside a closet hidden from view. You can deal with those after the party. Then have another ten minutes to do a quick clean of the toilet, wipe the tabletops and sweep the floor, and you’re good to go.

Take out the garbage. Empty your garbage bins and put extra bins in corners and outside. The last thing you would want to attend to during the party is an overflowing of trash, so make sure you’ll have space for an evening’s worth of rubbish.

If like me, you enjoy entertaining guests and throwing the simplest but the most memorable get-togethers, party organizing can be such a pleasurable task that getting ready for the event can go by so fast. You’ll end up enjoying the company of your guests, and then missing party planning so much that you can’t wait to throw your next party or create excuses just to celebrate.

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