Preparing for Last-Minute Guests

Party guests seated around a table smiling while a man lowers a bowl of food onto the center of the table.

If your house has become a hot spot for friends and neighbors to hang out, it helps to be prepared.

Keep these seven essentials on hand and you'll be ready to party the next time you hear the doorbell ring.

  • Baking & Dip Mixes: Store extra baking and dip mixes in the pantry and appetizers in the freezer. They’re easy to prepare on quick notice, and most require already on-hand ingredients.
  • Decorative Lighting: Tuck extra candles, tea lights and votives in a drawer. They can spruce up areas like porches and patios in no time flat.
  • Bar Essentials: Keep the bar stocked with wine, beer, liquor and other essentials like pre-made drink mixes, margarita salt, fruit juices, sour mix, hot sauce, tonic water, sodas, bitters, grenadine, jarred olives and cherries, a shaker, strainer and an ice bucket.
  • Cocktail Napkins: Store packages of decorative napkins in a drawer to add flair to any last-minute affair. Watch for other party supplies like plates and cups to appear on clearance racks—it’ll make keeping party supplies on hand cheaper, and make clean up a breeze.
  • Cutting Boards: Use cutting boards as serving platters when time is not allotted to get serving dishes out of storage.
  • Music: Stop what you’re doing right now, and put together a music playlist. Title it “Last-Minute Party,” and you can blast it through speakers in a matter of seconds.
  • Chairs: Investing in a set of folding chairs is wise. Especially if you have a lot of storage space in your home and frequently entertain. Just pull them out to provide extra seating options.