Yikes! Friends are dropping over, the house is a mess and it’s close to dinnertime. Don’t panic—we’ve got five tips to make last minute entertaining much less stressful.

First things first—be prepared! You won’t have a panic attack if you always keep your pantry stocked with items such as crackers, nuts, pasta and sauce. Pasta dishes go a long way to feed any number of people and are easy and quick to make.

Take advantage of your freezer. Bring out the frozen veggies as side dishes then spice them up with your own special sauce. Fruit from the freezer will defrost in time for a light dessert or go for that all-time favorite, ice cream.

As for take-out, it’s not taboo anymore. No one’s going to complain as long as there’s food to eat. A quick run to your favorite eatery or a stop at your grocery’s deli counter will please your guests just as easily as if you had gone to the trouble to make something homemade.

Whether it’s take-out, salad or a quick dish you’ve thrown together you’ll want to draw attention to the table. Keep a stack of decorative paper napkins on hand, ready to make a casual evening a little bit more glamorous.

Lastly, survey just how messy the house really is. As long as you’ve tidied up the kitchen, wiped the mirror in the bathroom and put out a fresh roll of toilet paper, you’re good to go. Your guests are your friends and they’ll understand if you haven’t had time to do your normal cleaning.

Follow our tips and you’ll find yourself able to enjoy the evening rather than feel frazzled.

last minute entertaining tips

keep the kitchen stocked

  • Have ‘fix in a jiff’ dinner options on hand. A nice jar of pesto and pasta are quick to make, easy to do and go a long way—and don’t forget the wine and beer!
  • You can never go wrong with nuts, mints or crackers, not to mention that box of gourmet cookies you’ve stashed away.
  • Keep cream cheese, sour cream and mayo in the fridge for making last minute dips.

the freezer is your friend

  • Frozen vegetables make a quick go-to for last minute side dishes. Fruit will defrost just in time for a light dessert to go with those decadent cookies.
  • Ice cream is the ultimate sweet ending for any get together. Pair with several toppings to make an ice cream bar or keep a supply of our chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches on hand for an extra special treat.

take-out’s no longer taboo

  • No one will be the wiser if you buy a rotisserie chicken, add a few garnishes and make it your own.
  • Order a lasagna or Chinese from your favorite restaurant but break out the dishes—don’t leave them in their original containers.
  • Hit the grocery for a quick trip to the deli counter. A variety of cheeses and meats for sandwiches is a great shortcut for easy entertaining. Try our veggie tray crudite using veggies that are pre-cut for a simple appetizer that looks fancy.

dress up the table

  • No matter what you end up serving, make your table look as if you’ve been planning the event for days. Grab those pretty paper napkins when you first see them at the store to start a collection for occasions just like this.
  • Don’t forget a centerpiece! Keep it simple, or have a few stored away and pull them out when needed.

tidy up

  • Assess exactly how messy the house is. There’s no time for your usual cleaning so skip the guilt and clean only the areas where you think your guests will hang out. That means wiping the mirrors in the bathroom and replacing the almost empty roll of toilet paper with a fresh one.
  • Remove any cluttered items and just close the doors to those areas that are off-limits. Your guests aren’t going to go snooping to see if all the rooms are spotless—trust us.
  • Do a quick cleanup in the kitchen just before guests arrive—empty trash and have an area ready for dirty dishes.
  • Remember, your guests are your friends who want to relax and spend time with you. Follow our tips to make last minute entertaining less stressful and you’ll be able to enjoy their company as well.

Cheryl Says

There’s nothing wrong with take out! Whatever’s quick and easy works to make the evening fun for you too.