An old friend calls to say that her family is in town and they'd love to visit–now what? Don't panic! We've rounded up some easy tips to pull together a great fête in a flash. Cover the basics: Music, food, drinks, and maybe a little décor, and your guests will think you planned their arrival for months. And remember, there's no need to feel pressured to go all out. Your friends or family will appreciate the chance to spend time with you most.
Music is a must. It sets a festive mood and helps ease any awkward gaps in conversation. In a pinch, queue up a playlist of your favorite tunes on your phone and use a portable wireless speaker. That way, you can bring the party to any room of the house!
Rather than attempt specialized cocktails for each guest, keep a case (or two) of good wine or champagne on hand. Have a white and a red variety you like to cater to wine preferences. You'll be all set to pop a cork when the occasion arises.
Your party food doesn't have to be a five-course meal. You might want to impress your guests, but trying a new recipe can be a gamble. There's no shame in the takeout game! Keep a file with the menus and numbers of your favorite takeout and delivery restaurants so you can call them up at a moment's notice. Kids can be picky eaters, so have something optional available for them to eat. A tried and true crowd pleaser? Pizza!
Owning a nice set of serving platters or pretty bowls can easily take the function up a notch. Décor can also be as simple as running out to buy a bouquet of flowers to put on the table. Another secret of great entertainers is to have a party closet (or drawer, or basket) at the ready. Stock it with the essentials: balloons, crepe paper streamers, a roll of tape, paper plates, a tablecloth. This is also a great place to store any extra party supplies left over from past events that could be reused.