Parties & Entertaining

How to plan a party really fast

Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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Plan a party really fast without skipping a beat and be the ultimate hostess

Last minute get-togethers can come as a shock when the host is you. No need to panic. With a few strategic moves, easy appetizers and an extra pair of arms you can plan a party really fast and have a good time doing it.

Without the luxury of time, it's essential to cut as many corners as possible. Things that typically involve a wait have to go in the express lane, but this doesn’t mean sacrificing the personal touch. For instance, order invites for next day pick up and get them in the mail post haste.

All hands on deck

Recruit the family to help with overhauling the party space. Make each person responsible for cleaning and decorating a specific room where people will be – the kitchen, bathroom, dining room and main gathering area – so you have as much time as possible to focus on the menu. Give detailed instructions on decorations so there's a feeling of continuity.

Budget

Once the party invitations go out set a hard budget for this little extravaganza. When you don’t have time to price compare, sticking to the budget involves being resourceful. See how many paper napkins, plates, silverware and cups you already have on hand and buy only what you need. Use what you have to make the space festive, including candles, lights and fancy serving ware.





Food shopping is where your budget is most vulnerable. While advance planning allows you to shop the sales, now you must condense those multiple grocery trips into one or two at most – save your fresh ingredients for the very last minute if possible. If the budget is tight, encourage guests to bring an appetizer, wine or beer to reduce your list.

Menu planning

Whether you’re throwing a three course dinner gathering or a holiday party, it’s easy to overestimate the amount of food you need. Make a list to keep track of everything. Before you commit to cooking a complicated dish you’ve never made before, consider scaling back to a familiar favorite to avoid potential waste and added stress.

To plan a party really fast keep things simple by breaking the food list into two or three categories: welcome bites, appetizers and the meal. Even if you’re not throwing a dinner party it’s a good idea to add a few substantial dishes like pasta salad and wraps into the mix so people don’t get hungry.

Welcome bites are the most affordable, but also what you'll buy the most of since guests typically arrive ready for a snack and eating helps break the ice. Variety is key. Salsa, hummus and other dips with crackers, breads and pretzels are a great start. A few bowls of nuts, fruit, olives, cheeses and sliced sausages with toothpicks are perfect for guests to graze and mingle.

Bruschetta, mini meatballs and a colorful salad with grape tomatoes are fast, easy appetizers that require little prep. If you want to serve a meal, seasoned rice, roasted veggies and an easy protein like store-bought rotisserie chicken or sausage sandwiches make it easy to arrange a self serve buffet or casual sit down.

Save time and money by skipping the wine store and going straight to your nearest Trader Joe’s or Costco for bottles ranging from $3 to $5!

Day of

Lay out your clothes in the morning - they’re the last thing you’re going to want to think about when everyone’s on their way and you’re still in yoga pants. Then get every little undone task out of your head and on to a list. Include each detail that needs doing from dethawing meat and setting up the cocktail tray to showering, creating a music playlist and decorating the cake

Delegate one or two tasks to helpful friends and family, writing down who is responsible for what. Keep your phone charged and ringer on so you can answer and ask follow up questions with Team Party Time throughout the day. Snack and hydrate as you go because having to plan a party really fast means you’ll probably forget to eat lunch on the big day.

Keep an eye on the clock, turn music on early and smile!

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