Unexpected Guests? Here's How To Entertain Successfully At A Moment's Notice (Slideshow)

Trying to play host to a crowd at a moment's notice can be a stress-inducing nightmare, but it doesn't have to be. The biggest key to pulling off a last-minute gathering is not to stress. Once that's done, you can set the mood by cleaning and preparing some quick and easy party foods, throw on a playlist, and break out the board games.

Keep a Fully Stocked Pantry

The best way to deal with the unexpected? Expect it. Keep a few party-friendly snacks and drinks on hand at all times. A bottle of prosecco, hard cheeses, crackers, chips, and salsas can transform from everyday snacks into total lifesavers when guests are thrown into the mix.

For last-minute entertaining pantry essentials, click here.


Ideally, you keep your house relatively clean even when you aren't expecting guests. But, if people are coming over — even at the last minute — go the extra mile and tidy up a bit more. Give the toilets a quick scrub, vacuum the rugs, wash your kitchen counters, etc. These little touches will make your home feel more comfortable for your guests.

Click here to find out which six foods will actually help you clean your house.

Embrace Your Guests With Open Arms

Having unexpected guests can be a total annoyance, but don't let them know that. Just because you may not have been planning on entertaining people doesn't mean that you should forget your manners. When your guests arrive, greet them warmly and immediately offer them something to eat or drink. Having a positive attitude and being enthusiastic will instantly make your home feel welcoming.

Make Easy Snacks

Your guests won't be expecting much at your last-minute celebration. But if you want to wow them anyway, make a few quick and easy dishes using things you already have in your pantry. Biscuits, drop cookies, tea sandwiches, and pasta salads can all be made at a moment's notice and require minimal cleanup.

For quick and easy party appetizers, click here.

Order Out

Didn't stock your pantry and had no time for a run to the grocery store? Don't worry. If all else fails, the great, easy party food known as takeout comes into play here. Hit up your local pizza place and order some appetizers, pizzas, desserts, and sodas — or get an array of Chinese finger food (dumplings, egg rolls, spare ribs, etc.) — to keep your guests full and happy.

To learn how to cater your party with fast food, click here.

Play Games

Not every party needs to have set activities, but if you find that there is a lull in conversation or an awkward break in the action, propose playing some card or board games. Every household has at least a Monopoly set and a deck of cards set on hand (if not, get some!), so set up some friendly competition to keep people entertained.

For the best dinner party games, click here.

Set the Mood With Music

Having a mood-setting playlist ready to go and play through whatever home speaker system you may have can quickly turn your house into party central. Whether you want to make your house dance party-ready with Top 40 hits or you want to set a relaxing mood with jazz, this easy detail will make your last-minute party feel thoroughly thought out. (No playlist handy? That's what satellite radio is for.)

Don’t Stress

Both you and your guests know that this party is a last-minute affair, and that is more than OK! As with everything in life, it's best to take a minute out, breathe in, and relax. If you forgot to set out appetizers before your guests arrive, it's fine. If the food isn't perfect, don't apologize.

Eat these superfoods to help with that holiday stress of unexpected guests.