With the holiday season in full swing and continuing on into 2016, you can’t always plan ahead when friends and family stop by to join in some holiday cheer. And for those of us celebrating the season in more than one city, these impromptu gatherings are a perfect time to get together and catch up with friends. Even though the event might be impromptu, it doesn’t mean you have to look unprepared. No matter what the season, here are a few ways to keep your home ready for entertaining on a whim!
Frozen food can be your friend. This is the single greatest ally you can have in always being prepared for a party. Keep frozen quiches and Greek spanakopita appetizers (triangles of flaky fillo dough filled with spinach cheese) from your grocer’s frozen aisle in your freezer. And, next time you make a pot of chili, double it and freeze it to have on hand for company. Serve it with Fritos and top with cheddar cheese. Or serve up a bowl with a hot grilled cheese sandwich of your choice.
Tapas in a pinch. To be ready for last minute surprise guests, keep a bevy of cheeses, salami, olives and nuts and crackers on hand. Harder cheeses stay fresh longer, and salamis and cured meats last for months. Keep a few varieties of olives in your refrigerator door, and stock your pantry with jars of sun-dried tomato and olive tapenades and tomato bruschetta for instant bruschetta toppers. Cream cheese topped with Ancho Chili jam is another instant appetizer. Plus, these all come in mighty handy when you and your partner want an impromptu party for just the two of you. I’m speaking from experience here.
Have a party playlist ready to go. Create your own playlist to fit the particular party mood if time allows, but if there’s no time, check out Pandora, Spotify or Apple Music for last minute playlists that will set the mood for any fête or get together. Whichever you choose, music is a must.
Select a signature dish. I have a friend who makes such good guacamole that it’s all anybody ever requests. Do you have a signature dish? If not, try out a few recipes over the next few months, and test them out at small gatherings, to see what your signature dish should be. That way, you always have a go-to option when there are mere minutes to prepare. One of my signature dishes when I have guests come over is a beautiful caprese salad because it is fresh, flavorful, and quick to put together. I love gourmet balsamic vinegars and olive oils, and I make sure to keep an assortment of varieties on hand so I can add my signature flavor and flair to the dish.
Build up your beverage shelf. It’s good to keep a variety of wine and liquor on hand, when it comes to being prepared to entertain. As a rule, keep a bottle of red, a bottle of white, a bottle of bubbly, and vodka, rum, gin, and whiskey on hand. And, don’t forget the mixers! Always have a chilled juice in the fridge for quick & easy mimosa making, as well as club soda and tonic available for mixed drinks. And, don’t forget those olives and garnishes!!
Have colorful accents on hand. Whether it be whimsical paper straws, stirrers, fun cocktail napkins, fresh garnishes with a twist, edible gold and silver flakes, flavored salt or sugar rimmed glasses, keeping colorful accents on hand can instantly brighten up an impromptu get together and take a soirée from simple to special.
Keep candles well stocked. Candles always set the mood in an effortless way. Try to keep a good variety on hand – I prefer all white, but with a slew of sizes such as tealights, votives, tapers and pillars. When you have candles readily available, you can easily place them in classic holders, or get creative with mason jars, vintage glassware, martini glasses or teacups. The more creative, the better!
Moll Wants To Know: What’s your signature dish when it comes to impromptu entertaining?