Many people like to host parties for friends and family members. Advanced notice of such gatherings gives hosts ample time to get organized.
But sometimes hosting duties fall on our shoulders out of the blue when a relative is unexpectedly in the area or a friend suggests stopping by to catch up over a cup of coffee. In such instances, what is a host or hostess to do?
When tasked with last-minute hosting duties, first figure out how much time you have before the guest or guests are expected to arrive. This allows you to take inventory of your home. While you will not be able to give every room a complete overhaul, you likely will be able to squeeze in some last-minute straightening up. Focus your energy on one or two rooms of the house where you and your guests can spend your time.
When getting the house ready at the last minute, empty the sink of dirty dishes and load them into the dishwasher. Wipe down countertops and tame any cluttered counters. Simply make piles of these items and move them to another room out of sight.
In a living room or dining room, give surfaces that are at eye level a quick dusting. Sweep crumbs from hardwood floors or take out the vacuum cleaner and give floors a once-over to combat dust bunnies. Plump sofa pillows and open the blinds to make the room brighter and more inviting. Freshen up a dining room table by putting on a new tablecloth and move a potted plant from elsewhere in the home to the table for an easy centerpiece.
Focus significant attention on the bathroom. Counters and sinks should be wiped clean, and fresh hand towels should be hung on the rack for guests. Give the toilet a good scrubbing, and vacuum any hairs or dust that has accumulated in the corners of the floor. A few spritzes of perfume or air freshener can make the space smell inviting. These quick cleaning tasks should take no more than an hour.
When serving meals or snacks, be honest with your guests. Explain that you did not have a chance to visit the grocery store, and suggest they bring a cake, cookies or another snack. Add a splash of flavor to water by floating slices of lemon, cucumber or apple in a decorative pitcher. Crackers and sliced cheese can serve nicely in a pinch.
Guests who will be arriving around dinner time will likely expect a meal. Casseroles and pasta dishes can be expanded to feed a crowd. Select a meal that is filling so you won't have to prepare as much food. If you simply do not have enough ingredients to whip up something substantial, ask guests if they would mind dining out or ordering in. With an array of restaurants offering delivery or curbside pickup, you likely can order anything from steak dinners to a bucket of chicken, depending on your preferences. As long as you are gracious and accommodating, guests won't mind if you do not provide something home cooked.
If unexpected guests are immediate members of your family, you may not have to go to great lengths to organize your home and prepare a spread of refreshments. Still, everything should be orderly and you can do your best to be welcoming no matter how short the notice.