thought i'd share a few tips on putting together a last minute casual dinner party, in case you ever find yourself in the scenario i was in last wkend...
- assuming you're having the party at a restaurant, remember to book the table first! it's always nicer to have your own private area so perhaps you could look for a place that can offer that.
- if you're planning to have the party at home, and given it's a last minute party, you can always resort to takeaway from a nearby restaurant. nearby, to make life easier to pick up the food. if they deliver, that's even better...there are companies that call themselves room service deliveries - they pick up and deliver food from the restaurant of your choice straight to your doorstep. of course, if you are nigella lawson & can throw together an amazing feast in the last minute, that would be perfect. but alas, not all of us are domestic goddesses ;)
- once time & venue are confirmed, do inform all your guests or remind them on the morning of the party.
- with the food & invites sorted, you can plan the decor. start with a simple theme, or in the absence of a theme, start with a colour or two...if it's a birthday do, try to think of something recent or of significance that the birthday boy / girl can relate to.
- buy a few balloons...you don't need many (you might want to avoid the party looking like a carnival, unless that's your actual theme!) - a balloon at every other chair will do ;)
- visit a few party shops or even the local supermarket / toystore...you'll be surprised at the things you can get there.
- buy confetti / shredded paper to fill up the table...if you have a lovely centrepiece, that'll be even nicer. depending on your theme, perhaps a candle stand or some flowers or even a large bowl filled up with sweets & candy.
- buy serviettes or place mats to match the theme or colour. it's not necessary but it's the small details that make a difference to the ambiance.
- party packs or gifts for the guests are great if you have the time to look for them.. it doesn't have to be anything fancy (unless you have a big budget) and when it's with close friends, it's usually just for laughs.
- if you have no time to bake a cake (or don't know how), check with the restaurant if they have any readily available. if not, just buy a simple cake from the bakery or a few cupcakes to put together. then accessorise to your theme. candles or candies can jazz up a plain cake.
- throughout all this, do remember - you only have two hands & can only be at one place at a time so it's a really good idea to have a friend or two to help out. or if all else fails, engage a party planner enthusiast like yours truly ;)
last but not least, if you miss out on any of the above, don't stress yourself over it. these frills are just fluff that complement the party. at the end of the night, it's really the company that makes the dinner party special. and i'm sure they'd forgive you if you missed out on a balloon or two ;)