During the holidays, when weekends book up fast with workplace parties, cocktail gatherings and kids’ events, an informal, spontaneous get-together could result in a refreshing change of pace. Or perhaps you’ve simply procrastinated, despite the fact that you’ve known since Labor Day that 30 of your closest relatives are coming to celebrate Hanukkah with you. It’s OK. We won’t tell.
With just a week to plan, things are tricky but not impossible. Try these ideas to pull off it.
Send an electronic invitation. Time is valuable, so going the digital route will save you the delay of snail mail. An invitation from an agency like Evite or Punchbowl reaches guests instantly and makes RSVPs much easier on short notice. With all the fun designs available, you won’t have any trouble finding one that suits your event.
Tough clean. Whether you do that yourself or call in a cleaning service, then now’s the time to attack the areas that tend to get neglected, such as dusty air vents, cobwebbed corners and fingerprint-festooned door frames. You will want to touch up the home on the big day, however, the heavy lifting is going to be done.
Restock the bar. Replenish libations like gin, vodka and Scotch, and put on a supply of beer, cocktails and wine. Do not forget mixers, lemons and limes and other staples.
Clear out the refrigerator. Create lots of space for a 20-pound a tray of hors d’oeuvres. Toss aging food, wash out storage containers and then polish off the two inches of juice in the bottom of the carton. Give the refrigerator shelves a fantastic wipedown as you’re at it.
Spruce the guest space. Relatives coming in from out of town? Fluff your guest quarters to welcome them. Freshen the mattress linens, add a bedside carafe, put out a stack of towels and make certain they have a stash of reading material.
Decide on furniture and seating arrangements. Tinker with furniture placement to come up with the best flow to your gathering. Hosting a seated dinner? Think through where to put guests. You might even make place cards if you’re so inclined.
Keep food simple. Without a great deal of time to strategy, it’s best to go with a compact menu that contains a mix of prepared and from-scratch dishes — for example, pick up a baked ham that is ready to serve and pair it with your favorite roasted vegetable medley or creamy casserole. Make as many things beforehand as you can, out of freezable cheese straws to chilled pies. For a party, you might also concentrate on a simple theme, like a dinner buffet or a hot chocolate bar.
If you would rather let the local supermarket or gourmet shop do the cooking, then many offer prepared meals with all of the trimmings. Order early in the week to give them time to accommodate you.
Anita Diaz for Far Above Rubies
Inventory tableware. Dig out the fantastic china, polish silver and media linens. Ensure that you have enough plates, glasses, flatware and serveware to suit the food that you plan to offer, and buy some cheap extras if necessary. It’s possible to place the table or arrange the buffet per day or two beforehand (sans champagne flutes and other precarious breakables), then drape a lightweight sheet over it to keep dust off till party time.
Order blossoms. Weekly should be plenty of time for a florist to produce the arrangements you desire. DIY-ers can play with loose blooms and vases to come up with their own custom traditional flower arrangements or beautifully crazy temples.
Create a playlist. Comb through your iTunes library or CD collection and compile tunes that set the mood. Should you feel as if your musical taste is becoming a little stale, browse and download some new songs to shake things up.