Before you head out to do your shopping, do a quick count of how many people you're expecting. Do you have enough cups and plates? What about cutlery? If you don't, add grabbing some plastic serving ware to the list of things to buy. Also take a quick glance at the recipes you plan to use and make sure you have all the tools you will need to make them. The last thing you want is to return from the store only to discover you don't have a zester or some other necessary device. When you're really short on time, returning to the store isn't an option, so be certain absolutely everything you could possibly need for preparation is on the shopping list before you head out.
When it comes to last-minute decorating, keep it simple. You only have to make it seem as though you were prepared (no one needs to know you raided the dollar store). Start with a couple of packages of cocktail napkins that go with the theme of the evening. They can be seasonal, holiday-themed or celebratory, depending on the occasion. Next, look for one decorative piece that makes what you are celebrating clear. Whether that's a sign, a couple of balloons or a candle for the cake, something that represents why you're all gathered will do. You should also make sure it's something that is relatively quick and easy to set up. Now is not the time for elaborate displays, so keep it simple.
Keep your food choices for the evening easy to prepare so you don't end up running out of time and leaving most of your groceries unused or getting trapped in the kitchen, trying to accomplish a million and one tasks. Homemade hummus can be prepared in minutes and only requires a few ingredients. Pair it with veggies, such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower florets and pepper slices. To keep your guests from getting hungry, grab a couple of blocks of cheese, such as cheddar, mozzarella or havarti. If you nab a few boxes of crackers to go with the cheese cubes, you will have a tasty and filling appetizer in no time. You can also add some prosciutto, salami and pickles to the list to give the plate more variety. And in an effort to save time, visit the bakery for some cupcakes, brownies or cake rather than make them from scratch at the last minute.
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