To all of you mamas out there who are barely holding it together:
Let me ask you something. When was the last time you invited over a couple friends, just because? No, really.
Most of us have a long list of reasons why we rarely entertain anymore. The house is a mess. The kids have practice and homework. And it's really hard to get schedules in synch. Trust me - I get it. (Our living room carpet is covered with a pretty impressive combination of Legos® and dog hair right now.)
But here's the truth of the matter: your friends care about you, not about the dishes in the sink or the toys on the floor.
Besides, entertaining doesn't have to be fancy! In fact, your friends don't expect (or even want) big or elaborate meals. So here are a few tips to help you make it easier and make it actually happen.
12 Easy Ideas for Last-Minute Entertaining
- Bake a warm dip. Honestly, it's always a crowd-pleaser. To make one really quickly, spread softened cream cheese in a baking dish. Top with salsa (Corn, Black Bean Salsa is the best!) and a little shredded Cheddar cheese. Bake at 325°F for 10 minutes or until warm and bubbly. Boom.
- Produce some produce.. Strawberries. Grapes. Baby carrots. You name it. Whatever produce you can find in your fridge, simply arrange it on a pretty platter. Healthy, crunchy options are always a hit, and they'll help balance out any richer appetizers like …
- Serve up cheese. Because … well, it's cheese. My personal favorites are Cheddar and smoked Gouda, along with a soft wheel of Brie or Gorgonzola for the more adventurous souls. It's nice to have a mix of textures and flavors, from mild to sharp.
- Pour the wine. Lots of wine. (Yes, this is related to #3.)
- Stock the pantry. Keep your pantry stocked with a few staples on hand, like salsa, tortilla chips, crackers, nuts, olives and dried fruit. In fact, Tastefully Simple's Last-Minute Assortment is a wonderful way to always have your bases covered – from salsa to sangría. And it's so easy, you don't even need a recipe.
- Mix sweet and savory. For the best of both worlds, pour Sweet Pepper Jalapeno Jam over cream cheese for an instant appetizer. Seriously, it's divine. Grab a box of crackers or Triscuits®, and try not to eat it all before your guests do.
- Create 10-minute crostini. If you have some Martha Stewart-like aspirations, thinly slice a baguette, brush the slices with olive oil on both sides, and sprinkle on sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake at 375°F for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Roasted Garlic Infused Oil is terrific for this, too. Not only will it elevate your snacking game, it will make your house smell amazing.
- Drop by the deli. Set out deli meats like salami, ham and turkey. There's no cooking required, and sliced meats always pair well with virtually anything.
- Fix fuss-free finger foods. Want to deliver a "wow" without the work?
For an easy yet impressive appetizer, just stuff any savory cheese ball into mushroom caps; sprinkle with a little shredded cheese or breadcrumbs. Bake at 350°F for about 18-25 minutes. Voila! I stuffed the little beauties above with Artichoke & Spinach Warm Dip.
- Set the mood. Stream some of your favorite playlists. Even if you keep the volume low, it will create a fun vibe and help everyone unwind.
- Fake it with fancy frozen pizzas. It sounds silly, but if you end up with a full house or if your guests stay later than you expected, it's a lifesaver. Keep a couple really good flatbread-style frozen pizzas in the freezer, and just add a little fresh cheese to the top before baking them. Slice them into bite-sized pieces for hors d'oeuvres.
- Don't overthink it. And above all, don't stress. At the end of the day, remember – your guests are just happy to be in such good company: yours.
That's it, my friends. A few snacks. A few drinks. And a few of your favorite people. Now those sound like the perfect ingredients for an impromptu party to me.