How To Throw The Best Dinner Party On Your Block With Just 3 Hours' Notice

It's 4:45 p.m. on a Thursday and you're reaching the end of a busy work day. Your phone buzzes, and a message flashes up on your screen: "So looking forward to seeing you later, is it 8 p.m.? Anything I can bring?" You're hosting a dinner party in three hours, and you've completely forgotten about it. Don't stress, but do rush. This can be done, but you'll need this step-by-step guide to show you how.

How to Throw the Best Dinner Party on Your Block With Just 3 Hours' Notice (Slideshow)

To be prepared just in case this does ever happens to you, try to always have some simple, delicious party staples in your kitchen: a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano, olives, some roasted nuts, and a bottle of extra-virgin olive oil are incredible party-saviors. Pick up some fresh, crunchy bread to serve with these salty treats, and you've got your appetizers sorted.

The key to getting away with hosting a last-minute dinner party is to keep everything simple. Focus on the entrée and fake the rest. Store-bought appetizers are perfect, and no-one is ever upset about having ice cream for dessert.

When time is short, we love serving a simple, seasonal pasta dish, alongside a huge, crunchy, green salad. Stick to a recipe you know how to cook — testing your culinary skills by attempting to make ravioli at home is not the most sensible thing to do right now. In winter, we love pulling together this comforting, bubbling baked ziti, and in summer this vibrant, beautiful Arugula-Basil-Ricotta Pesto Pasta is just perfect. Don't try and plate it up in a fancy way in the kitchen. Instead, create a relaxed, communal atmosphere, and serve everything family-style.

Aside from the food, which, by just focusing on an easy pasta entrée, you'll have sorted in no time, the key thing is to set the right atmosphere. When you're back from the grocery store, get the wine in the fridge, put some music on, light the candles, and set the flowers on the table. This will get you in the mood. Now that you're in the right mindset and have everything you need in the kitchen, you'll easily be hosting the best dinner party on your block in just a couple of hours.

Read on for our minute-by-minute guide on how to throw a dinner party in just three hours.