Entertaining: At The Drop Of A Hat

110209lastminute-01.jpgJust last week, a friend of ours threw a last minute get-together. The evening of friends and food went off without a hitch and it got us thinking--entertaining at the drop of a hat is so enjoyable. Wanting to perfect the art, we rounded up a handful of ways to make impromptu gatherings stress-free...

If you'd like to throw a last minute celebration or you just want an excuse to have friends over last minute--here are some foolproof ideas for making the event seamless.

  • So you've just invited everyone over for dinner and drinks (and they'll be arriving in a few short hours). We like to start multi-tasking immediately. Mix up dessert and bake ahead of time or start a casserole to cook while you clean. That way, the house will smell amazing when guests arrive and you'll have a big head start on dinner.
  • If there's no time to cook, order take-out from your favorite neighborhood restaurant. You can always arrange the meal on your own serving platters if you'd like to fool guests. And if you can manage it, throw some pre-made cookies in the oven or put some cinnamon sticks and orange peels in a pot of water and simmer. The extra effort will add a wonderful aroma to your evening.
  • Make a quick playlist on the iPod and set it up where your guests will be hanging out. You'll have music to listen to while you cook and clean and the mood will be set and ready to go once the doorbell rings.
  • If you don't clean anything else, clean the bathroom. Quickly wipe down countertops, toilet and sweep the floor. A quick shake of the bathroom mat outside and you're good to go. Plus--it's probably the smallest room in the house so it won't take long at all to tidy up.
  • If the house happens to be cluttered, give yourself a good fifteen to twenty minutes to put items in their proper home. After that, you're allowed to stash items in a closet to be addressed the next day.
  • Take out the garbage. The last thing you want is an overflowing trash can or recycling bin. While you're taking the trash out, spend a minute outside gathering greenery to bring indoors.
  • Last minute entertaining leaves little room for a fancy centerpiece (which is fine by us). Grab your favorite potted plant or place your fresh picked greenery in a vase. Or, if you've got fresh fruit or seasonal items like miniature pumpkins--use those instead.
  • Lighting candles will make the evening even more special and give each room a warm glow. Don't forget to add a candle or two to the restroom--and if you have extra, place a few in your home's entryway. The added touches will make it seem like you've had a week to plan.
  • If you don't want to worry about all mixers and ice, serve red wine. It will be easier on you to serve beverages if all you have to do is pop a cork and pour.
  • An added plus of throwing anything together last minute--no extra time to fret over making the right decision. No cards to send, no time spent wondering if you should have gone with a chocolate torte or a pie. Getting ready for the party will go by so fast that all you have to do is enjoy the company of friends once they arrive.

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(Image: Look!: Fall Centerpiece Inspiration)

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