Nobody enjoys being caught off guard. Whether you’re a planner or not, surprise guests or unexpected hosting can create a bit of uneasiness. But instead of panicking when out-of-town guests are suddenly in town or shying away when the original host gets sick, try keeping a few of these things on hand to make hosting on the fly that much easier.
Food: Cheese and crackers. Seems simple, doesn’t it? It’s the age-old, easy appetizer at any gathering. Kept simple, it is a crowd pleaser for a children’s party. Dressed up a little bit with salami and nuts, it can transform into a charcuterie board.
No, I am not just saying this because I am a lover of bubbly. It really is a very versatile beverage. It can be combined with juices and fruit to create a themed punch or compliment a brunch when served with orange juice. Andi f you’re opting for a more formal gathering, it can be the center of a formal toast or speech.
Drink: Carbonated Beverage
Think lemon-lime soda, ginger ale or tonic water. This offers your guests a non-alcoholic option or can be paired with alcoholic beverages for fun creations.
I tend to keep a variety of candle options on hand. In addition to my favorite White Barn three-wick seasonal candles from Bath & Body Works, I also make sure I have a stash of tealights, pillar candles and of course, birthday candles. Tealights can be lined along a window sill close in proximity to create a romantic ambiance. Grab paper bags and sand or kitty litter and a few pillar candles to build easy DIY lanterns along your walkway. And make anyone feel extra special (even if the party isn’t exactly a birthday party) by popping birthday candles into the dessert selection and singing to them.
My personal favorite is a sandwich board with a black board finish. You can use chalk or colored chalk markers to draw out a welcome sign or display a menu. It instantly eludes that thought and time was put into the event, even if it was completed just moments before guests arrived.
Games: A Deck of Cards
It’s a fun go-to after dinner when guests aren’t quite ready to leave yet. It can also be an activity for guests to focus on if there is a mix of people who aren’t necessarily friends or acquaintances. Games can break the ice for guests who don’t know each other well. And in the wintertime, a deck of cards can direct a game of Chinese Christmas as we call it creating a little friendly competition over gifts.
Miscellaneous Supplies: Small Gifts
When I’m out and about or have a few extra dollars, I always keep my out for small gifts. I keep them on hand for that “oh crap” moment when you realize someone is celebrating a birthday, anniversary or milestone without your knowledge. Or, they are great to have as hostess gifts when I myself attend a gathering. My stash changes throughout the course of the year but can usually be found stocked with some of these staples: cute and clever coffee mugs paired with $5 coffee house gift cards or a seasonal blend, a bottle of mid-range wine (in price and taste), stationery that can be paired with a fun pen or tied with a ribbon and a few fresh blooms, and chocolates or cheeses given with a candy dish or small cutting board.
Hopefully the next time the doorbell rings or your family stops in for an unannounced visit, you will feel much more prepared!