It's every host's nightmare: you have last-minute guests with no time to prepare. What's a good host to do? Whether you have an uninvited drop-in or need to throw a party in short order, there are a few things every good host has on hand just in case. Seri Kertzner, Chief Party Officer at Little Miss Party Planner, is no stranger to a last-minute soirée.
"We recently had a hurricane in Florida where I live," Kertzner tells MyDomaine. "In my town, it didn’t hit us too hard but since school was shut down, we decided to host a party. It was very last minute and the grocery stores had closed! So I asked my guests to each bring something to eat and drink and it turned out to be a total blast. We had plenty of food and drinks, I put together a last minute hurricane party playlist and we had the best time!"
When you're last minute hosting, always being prepared is the secret to success.
"Create a section in your pantry or in a drawer or closet in your home that is dedicated to entertaining," Kertzner says, where you can store your entertaining supplies. "This will help manage the stress and anxiety that may come with entertaining. A happy and relaxed host will make for happy and relaxed guests."
Even if you're caught off guard, the most important part is that your guests don't notice.
"Don’t ever let your guests feel that you were unprepared even if you are," Kertzner says. "Welcome your last-minute guests into your home and make them feel comfortable. You can invite them to make themselves at home while you put together a last minute spread and pop some tunes on."
A happy and relaxed host will make for happy and relaxed guests.
Here's what Kertzner always has on hand for good hosting on a time crunch.
1. Paper Towels & Napkins
If you have unexpected guests, you may not be able to do a deep clean before they arrive, but you can be preprepared if there's a mess during the party.
"Sounds silly but if you’re hosting, you’re cleaning!" Kertzner says. "You don’t want to run out of paper towels if there is a mess or a spill. Also, nice to always have napkins on hand, so when you are serving food to your guests, you can set them out."
2. Cheese Board Supplies
Kertzner recommends keeping an easy spread on hand so you can whip up a crowd-pleasing cheeseboard at a moment's notice. In the pantry, keep crackers, olives, nuts, and dried fruit on hand. In the fridge, stock up on dried meats like salami or prosciutto, cheese (she always has brie in her fridge), and any other accoutrements you love. No need to buy a fancy serving platter — a cutting board or plate are fine, she says.
"[These items] are important because they will give you peace of mind if you have guests show up unexpected instead of you saying 'I was totally unprepared,'" Kertzner explains. "Your guests will be super impressed by the last minute spread you put together and by being organized it will keep you relaxed so you can enjoy your guests."
3. Wine, Beer or a Bottle of Liquor and Ice
There's no time to create a signature cocktail for your party when you're hosting on the fly, but keeping a spare bottle of wine or sparkling water handy is a safe bet.
"When you have last minute guests, you’ll want to offer them a drink when they arrive," Kertzner says. "It doesn’t matter what you offer them, they will understand you don’t have an assortment like you would for a pre-planned party, as long as you have something! As for ice, just make sure your ice tray is always clean and full in your freezer."
4. A Playlist & Speaker
Whether you have a few friends over or the whole neighborhood, a playlist helps pull your event together and "sets the tone" for your event, Kertzner says.
"When hosting, even when it’s super casual, music is a must for me," Kertzner says. "I always have a go-to playlist that I can put on when friends are over or you can easily pull up tons of playlists on an app like Spotify."
Themed décor may be hard to come by for a spur-of-the-moment shindig, but you probably already have everything you need to set the mood.
"You don’t need to worry about any type of decor when hosting a last-minute get-together, but if you have a few candles that you can pull out and light, you’ll be able to create a soft, beautiful ambiance instantly," Kertzner recommends.