Maria Grace Photography via AislePerfect

It’s easy to prep for a party when you have plenty of advance notice. Birthdays, annual Christmas parties…give us a week and we can pull anything together, right? But what about those last minute get togethers, where you have an unexpected free night or friends and family stop by with short notice? While there is something so energizing about spontaneity, you don’t want to be running around in a panic at a moment’s notice trying to prepare for incoming guests. So, we’ve rounded up 5 key items to always have on hand to ensure those impromptu parties are memorable and stress free:

1.) A well-stocked bar cart.

A good hostess always has a variety of drinks on hand, from an assortment of wines, spirits and mixers. You can cover the basics by having universally appealing red and white wines (think pinot noir and chardonnay), vodka, gin and a nice blended scotch. For mixers, club soda and tonic are great starters, along with lemons, limes and some bitters for flavor. You can get creative with your bar cart styling with pretty stemware, cocktail napkins and colorful straws.

bar cart

Via A Beautiful Mess

2.) A curated cheese plate.

Who doesn’t love cheese, am I right? A well balanced cheese plate with an assortment of soft and hard cheeses, fruit, nuts, olives and crackers is the perfect snack to keep your guests happy. We love the idea of using little identifiers so guests can differentiate between the types of cheeses. Also, I try to make sure to sample a bite or two before guests arrive to take the pressure off of them to take the first bite.

scalloped-white-marble-cheese-board-c

via Williams Sonoma

3.) Lighting.

Nothing quite sets the mood like some beautifully lit candles. Overhead lighting can be harsh, and people tend to feel most comfortable and confident in low lighting. Some of our favorites to keep on hand are the Voluspa candles from Anthropologie and the Baies Collection by Diptyque.

candle2

4.) Mood music.

Background music sets the mood for the evening, and you want to have a standby playlist to keep the energy up and conversation flowing. You can either throw on your favorite Pandora station (we love the Sergio Mendes Brazilian station for a low key evening and Mumford and Sons for something a little more upbeat) OR dust off your record player and DJ some of your favorites throughout the night.

music

Crosley Record Player

5.) Something unexpected.

This is an impromtu party, after all. I love having something random to bring out just as the evening is ramping up. Whether it’s charades, Cards Against Humanity, a bin of costumes, or even something silly like bubbles (as weird as it sounds, people love bubbles) – read the crowd and have a fun activity on hand to make the night unforgettable.

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Via Etsy

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