10 Tips for Last-Minute Party Planning

Related To:
  1. Raid the pantry. If you've got sour cream and mayo in the fridge, canned clams or even tuna, you have what you need to whip up a super-fast dip. All that's left to do is buy chips or swing by your grocer's salad bar to get crudités for dipping.

  2. Dress up your dip. When it comes to what you can add to a basic dip, the sky's the limit. Creamy, strong-flavored cheeses — like blue cheese — work extremely well with your standard sour cream and mayo. And in a pinch, use chopped frozen spinach, jarred artichoke hearts or roasted red peppers.

  3. Be creative. If you've got frozen peas, make pea "guacamole" — throw frozen peas into a food processor, pulse it a few times and finish it with salt, pepper, diced tomatoes and a squeeze of lime juice. This recipe is excellent with tortilla chips or pita chips.

  4. Think basic. A wedge of cheese with some fruit jam on the side makes a great appetizer, especially if you can pick up some crackers to go with it.

  5. Choose a cocktail. For a truly last-minute party, your guests won't expect you to have anything more than beer or wine to serve. But you could keep ingredients on hand to make one "house cocktail," such as margaritas or gin and tonic. Then you'll be able to offer people a choice between beer, wine or the house cocktail.

  6. Keep your freezer stocked. Spiced nuts are quick and easy to whip up, and they last for months in the freezer. Make them in advance so they're handy when guests drop by.

  7. Everyone loves sandwiches. Check out your local butcher or specialty meat store to find an assortment of cold cuts and pâtés. Then arrange them on a platter with jarred cornichons, good bread and a strong mustard.

  8. Use grocery store delis and salad bars. Deli counters are a great source for antipasto. Buy small balls of mozzarella, a few different kinds of olives, cherry tomatoes and marinated peperoncini. Then arrange them in small bowls.

  9. Pop some popcorn. Toss it with a combination of melted butter, salt and a unique spice for a flavorful surprise. We suggest Chinese 5-spice powder, Cajun spices or Spanish smoked paprika.

  10. Make the easiest nachos ever. Top tortilla chips with canned black beans (rinse them before using), canned jalapenos, jarred salsa and shredded cheese. Then put under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese.
Keep Reading

Next Up

5 Tips for Smarter Tailgating

Sports events are synonymous with greasy food and alcohol, but tailgating doesn’t have to be a calorie disaster.

Top 10 Thanksgiving Dessert Tips

Getting ready for a special event? Find outdoor party ideas, 4th of July recipes and summer produce recipes along with great menus for entertaining from Food Network.

Cheese Buying Tips

With hundreds of cheeses now available at the grocery store and in cheese shops, buying cheese can be downright intimidating. But rather than approaching the cheese counter with dread, think of buying cheese as a fun adventure.

Cheesecake Tips and Techniques

Master the art of cheesecakes with some simple pointers

5 Sandwich-Making Tips

Find 1000s of Food Network's best recipes from top chefs, shows and experts. And watch videos demonstrating recipe prep and cooking techniques.

6 Holiday Party Survival Guide Tips You Need to Know

These six tips will help you avoid unwanted holiday party weight gain.

Chefs' 50 Best Thanksgiving Tips

Food Network Magazine turned to seven reigning Iron Chefs—and dozens of past competitors—for some holiday advice.

Planning a Holiday Cocktail Party

You're throwing a cocktail party! Here are some Food Network suggestions that will take you through the entire planning process from the drinks to the snacks to the theme.

Last-Minute Thanksgiving Tips from Bobby and Friends

Hear from Bobby and friends as they share good-to-know turkey day tips ahead of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.