Last Minute Fête
After this bash, you’ll plan all your parties in five minutes
Here’s the drama: A university girlfriend calls unexpectedly and says she’s in town and wants to check out your chic girl pad – she’ll be there in two hours! She’s invited her new beau and his single guy friend, which probably means she’s already signaled to the entire girl posse that the party’s at your place tonight. Don’t panic (there’s no time for that anyway!) Here’s the low-down on how to pull off a last-minute party and transform your mission to possible.
Beverages (15 mins.)
Let’s assume you’re nowhere near a store and must rely solely on your laurels, fridge contents and leftover vodka drops in the liquor cabinet. Here’s a beverage reference list that ensures your guests won’t suffer dehydration.
• Water isn’t just a viable resource; it’s also an ingredient that will win you organization brownie points! Fill up your ice cube trays so mixed drinks are kept cold. Water is also great for slowing down quick-to-drink guests. Keep bottles in a noticeable place. Not only are plastic water bottles de rigueur at bars and clubs (therefore acceptable in fancy environments), it keeps your patrons from wasting precious glassware best used for cocktails.
• Chill that champagne or white wine bottle you were saving for a special occasion (now is a good time as any).
• Take a quick inventory of all other mixes and liquors available, and do a quick online search plugging in ingredients you have and create a signature drink to serve your guests. For champagne, just add a splash of any natural fruit juice (mixing will help maximize the number of drinks you can create with your spare bottle too). Top off your drink with berries (one variety only, no berry medleys out of the freezer) or try a mint leaf for added freshness.
• Most guests will provide their own beer, wine or spirits. Your signature drink gives you a head start – tell guests after the first beverage to help themselves to what’s in the fridge.
Clean-up (40 mins.)
Here are some shortcuts to tidy up that don’t involve pulling out big buckets and working yourself into a tizzy.
• Garbage: Grab a garbage bag and clear clutter. From tissues lying on the floor and junk mail on the coffee table to the bathroom garbage bin. Once the garbage is out of the way you’re ready for quick cleaning.
• Floors: Open drapes or blinds and let the natural light guide you to the biggest dust bunnies in the room, taking a damp cloth and swooping the bunnies up. Then quickly go over the rest of the floors.
• Bathroom: Get a new toilet paper roll (it saves you from rummaging through the bathroom supplies half-way through your party). If you don’t have a second set of hand towels ready, just use the existing ones and fold them into squares or triangles. Clean the sink and mirror quickly (at this point, a couple sheets of toilet paper and a squirt of your bathroom cleaner will do the trick), and leave the toilet clean-up for last. If you have space, tuck daily care products into a vanity or bathroom cabinet, and close the shower curtain to hide your bathtub. Before you leave, spray something to arrogate the bathroom – perfume, room spray – and close the door to contain the fragrance.
• Kitchen: Load the dishwasher or hide dirty dishes under your sink if you have piles to do. Wipe down the countertop so you have a clean working surface.
• Bedroom: You can get away with just making the bed and hiding everything else under it. Avoid this room when you’re doing the house tours and keep the door closed. Most guests will just assume it’s the linen closet.
Appetizers & Food (25 mins.)
Don’t pore through complicated cookbooks, simple snacks work best! Upgrade classic party fare utilizing staple ingredients found in any girls’ pantry (that messy shelf where you keep food that doesn’t go in the fridge).
• Lay out small dishes of nuts, chocolates or candies and place them around your main living area. Place in martini glasses for a festive look.
• Make simple cracker tasters with tuna salad mixed with sliced garnishes of pickles.
• Melt cheddar cheese on top of salsa to go along with tortilla or potato chips.
• Use garnishes on top like flaked parsley too (it won’t add flavour but it looks fancier).
• Grab that can of chic peas and make hummus.
Catherine Jheon of Food TV fame recommends these quick solutions:
• guacamole (two ripe avocados mashed up with one clove of garlic and a bit of lime juice – to bulk up, add sour cream or yogurt)
• mini-quesadillas (cheese sandwiched between two flatbreads, lightly fried and cut up into dippable pieces)
• flavoured popcorn
The Hostess with the Mostess (20 mins.)
Get yourself ready just before you complete the final preparations (this gives you time to relax, and saves you from opening the door in a bathrobe to early guests). Grab a shower and do your make-up.
Set the Mood (15 mins.)
This is vital, so put some thought into making the atmosphere a welcoming experience.
• Scour drawers for candles (even half-used candles will do, once they’re lit, no one can tell if they’re new candles or not).
• Take a trip down memory lane and choose CDs the old gang will love.
• Find your old yearbooks, photographs and scrapbooks to place around tables for guests to peruse while you’re serving beverages.
• Place some napkins and coasters on tables for guests to use, and pull out your beverage glasses and do a quick check for spots.
Remain Calm (5 mins.)
The work is done – pour yourself a tester of your signature drink, and wait for the guests to arrive!
Written by: Melissa Jenkins-Gray
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