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This post was updated and republished September 4, 2019.
If you’re anything like me, you always mean to be ahead of the game for the kickoff to football season, New Year’s Eve, your child’s birthday party, or some other kind of event you want to host. And then suddenly the day sneaks up on you and you are nowhere prepared!
You have people coming over in just a few hours and your house looks like a tornado went through it.
You need to have food ready for 20 people and haven’t given any thought to the menu.
And you’re not even sure where you’re going to seat everybody.
Well, not to worry! There is still plenty of time to put something together. You just need to get moving quickly and not worry so much if everything isn’t perfect. (I know fellow perfectionists – I’m asking for a lot!)
Here are some tips to help you get started throwing any party last minute!
Tip #1 The Menu
Of course when you throw a party, one of the most important elements is what everyone is going to eat. I mean, have you ever been to a party without food?
What’s great is that you have a lot of ideas to choose from on how you want to handle the food. Here some thoughts to help you out:
- Think about whether you want to grill, smoke, cook on the stove or use the oven. Grilling or smoking meat is very popular for football parties and other sporting events but of course you don’t have to stick to tradition. (Hint: This is the perfect time to use an Instant Pot if you have one!)
- What dishes do you already know well that you can make quickly? Perhaps you can make something you have made a hundred times before so you can easily throw it together and not spend too much time on it.
- Maybe you would rather order the main course from a store or restaurant such as subs or pizza.
- You can choose to do a potluck where you ask every guest to bring their own dish to share. People can sign up for appetizers, dessert, drinks, etc. (Granted, this might not seem fair to your guests last-minute, so you can make it more of a suggestion and see what they say.)
- You can have all the ingredients ready for guests to make their own pizzas, burritos, tacos, etc. Be creative!
Here some other great ideas and recipes:
For a football party or other sporting event:
For a party such as New Year’s Eve: (all from Delish.com)
Tip #2 Clean Your House Without Really Cleaning It
What I mean by this is, make it look like your house is totally clean and that everything is completely put together, even if it’s really not.
In other words, you don’t necessarily have to make sure every hidden place is clean or that you scrub and use every disinfectant you own. (You can take care of all that after your guests leave.)
You also don’t need to clean every room in the house, but rather, only the ones your guests will see.
Here are tips on how to quickly clean the most common rooms your guests will use:
- Wipe off the rim of the toilet bowl
- Pour in toilet bowl cleaner and scrub it with a toilet brush
- Let the brush sit between toilet seat and rim for water to drip off
- Clean the mirror
- Wipe off the sink with a paper towel or microfiber cloth you used to clean the mirror
- Close the shower curtain so you don’t even need to touch the shower and/or tub
- Sweep off anything on the floor and wipe off any marks or dirt with a cloth
- Empty the garbage can
- Clean any dirty dishes and let them air dry while you continue to clean
- Remove any non-kitchen related items off the counters
- Make sure any unnecessary appliances are off the counters and stored somewhere
- Wipe off the counters and stove top
- Sweep the floor
- Put the dishes away as soon as they’re dry
- If you have a dishwasher, make sure to empty it right away so you can put any new dirty dishes in it immediately and keep them off the counters – this will also come in handy during the party
- Empty the trash can
- Make sure all clutter (toys, random papers, magazines, books, etc) are picked up and put away in their proper “home”
- Dust any dark furniture or anything that is clearly showing dust
- Vacuum or sweep, depending on your floor
- If necessary, rearrange furniture so everyone can see the TV
- Pull out any extra seating from the garage, shed, or other areas of the house
- If it’s going to be cool by you, get the fireplace ready for a fire
Front & Back Yards
- Put away any children’s toys
- Mow lawn and blow away leaves
- Move your own vehicles down the street so guests have a place to park
Tips #3 Decorating
Decorating is not a necessity to have people over. But if you have time for it, it can really add some excitement to your party.
Think of a theme that might work well.
For a football party, maybe you have some of your favorite team’s memorabilia around that you can use to decorate with or some posters or pictures you can bring out from another room. Also, ask your guests to wear a team’s jersey.
If it’s New Year’s or a birthday party, grab a banner and some confetti when you’re out at the store picking up food. If you have children, let them help you blow up balloons.
Or you may even want to have your house decorated for the season. For example in the fall, consider having some fall scents around such as candles and air fresheners. You can try 5 Simmer Pot Recipes To Make Your Home Smell Like Fall.
Tip #4 Activities
There is a very good chance that not everyone at your party will want to actually watch football, play games, or do whatever other activity that is going on. Consider some other things for them to do instead.
Maybe have some board games ready to play or an area set up outside on the porch to sit and chat.
You can even have different outside games set up such as cornhole (aka bean bag toss) or horseshoes. (You may not have time to make your own cornhole set, but if you do, here’s a how to. And then you can decorate the boards with your favorite team!)
Tip #5 Kids
Definitely think about the kids and how to entertain them while the party is going on.
Do you have a separate room in the house they can play in? Or perhaps a basement is play-ready. Depending on the weather, maybe a sprinkler can be turned on or other various outside activities can be ready to go. Maybe you have an older teenager that will be able to keep them entertained.
As you can see, putting a party together quickly isn’t so bad! It just takes a tiny bit of planning.
Sometimes some of the best parties are the ones that are thrown together last minute. But you must be OK knowing your house may not be perfectly cleaned and organized, food may be thrown together quickly and haphazardly, and some people may have to sit on the floor. Usually, people just want to hang out and the rest of it really doesn’t matter to them!
Do you have any tips to prepare for a last minute party? If so, please comment below!
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