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In a pickle: What to do about last-minute holiday guests

Newlywed, new mom and first-time home buyer, Sarah is currently playing out her exciting life in Phoenix, Arizona. She recently gave up her job in finance to stay at home with her baby girl, who between bath time and feeding time, keeps ...

Extra guests? We can help!

'Tis the season to be jolly. Don't let last-minute guests ruin your holiday spirit!
Woman hosting party

Between Christmas shopping, cleaning and decorating and hosting large meals for family and friends, the holidays can be more overwhelming than we'd like. When things don't go as planned, it's even more stressful.

This year, in case last-minute holiday guests do decide to make their presence known, you'll be prepared and won't break a sweat for even a second.

Expect extra guests

First things first — the holidays are all about spending time with family and friends. Expect your feast to grow by four, even six, more people than you'd originally planned. Always make more food than you need. It's a win-win situation — if extra people show up, you're prepared and if not, you have leftovers. It's always better to overestimate.

Have them bring a dish

Ask any unplanned guests if they wouldn't mind bringing a side dish to ensure there will be enough food to go around. More than likely, they won't mind at all and will be happy to help. If you've already prepared enough food, have them bring dessert or liquor to make holiday cocktails.

Check out these festive cocktail recipes for the holidays >>

Go potluck style

Knowing that holiday dinners will typically continue to grow until the evening of, go with potluck style right off the bat. Everyone who comes brings a dish of their choice. This allows you to not worry about the guest list at all — in fact, the more the merrier! You can do the fun part and provide plenty of drinks.

Tip: If guests tend to show up unannounced regularly — think your kid's friends, in-laws, or neighbors — have a meal in the freezer at all times.

Have frozen meals prepared

It's a good idea to have meals prepared in advance and frozen in case extra guests arrive. Meals that freeze well are lasagna, casseroles and soup. Make a dish — or two — a few days in advance and freeze. If extra guests arrive, pop the dish in the oven to ensure you'll have enough food to feed everyone.

Remember, you can say "No"

If friends call last minute explaining how their plans fell through, you're not required to invite them over for dinner. If your meal is already planned and there's just no extra room or food, consider inviting them over for after-dinner drinks or dessert by the fire. This lets them feel included without causing you unnecessary stress.

Extra tips for last-minute guests

  • Use small plates. Small plates force everyone to take a bit less than they normally would, which helps make sure there's enough for everyone to go around.
  • Slice meat in strips. If serving meat, cut it into small, thin strips so it feeds more people.
  • Use your pantry. Pull out some extra items from your pantry to serve as appetizers. Crackers and cheese, chips and salsa, mixed nuts or chocolate chip cookies all make great appetizers and will help fill up your guests before the meal.

More on dinner parties

10 Tips for dinner party success
5 Ways to make sure your holiday guests are having a great time
How to host a great dinner party

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