Everything you need to throw a dinner party in 5 hours or less

January 15, 2015

A last-minute dinner party doesn't have to be as stressful as it sounds. Play the perfect host with these food, drink and decor ideas.

Everything you need to throw a dinner party in 5 hours or less

We've all been there: the Saturday morning "What should we do tonight?" texts start floating around, and all of a sudden, you're having a crew over.


Although choosing and preparing a menu is usually the part that causes the most anxiety, a little planning can save lots of time in the long run.

  • If you choose a meal that can be baked in the oven or made in a slow cooker, you'll have plenty of time to get your house in order and spend time with friends.
  • Although slow cooker meals generally take a little longer, you can find plenty of recipes that will get the job done in three to four hours.


The all-important ingredient for a great dinner party, drinks lighten the mood and set the tone for the evening.

  • Invite everyone to bring their favourite bottle of wine or beer for meal time.
  • Give your guests an easy make-ahead cocktail to encourage mingling.


You don't have to spend a lot of time or money to make a great centrepiece, and your guests will be very impressed that you created party decorations with so little time to spare!

  • Something as minor as cutting and ironing pieces of fabric for matching napkins will make your table pop, cost very little and provide you with a party item you can reuse.


Let's say you've finalized your plans around noon and have invited guests to arrive around 5 p.m., with dinner planned for 6 p.m.

  • Party planning starts with writing a grocery list.
  • Always plan to make a little more than the serving sizes call for to account for unplanned guests and hungry friends, and to ensure you have delicious leftovers.
  • Don't forget to include anything you may need for the centrepieces and cocktails.
  • After your store run, start kitchen preparations. Take cooking times into account and plan for the food to be ready around 5:50 p.m.
  • While the food is in the oven or slow cooker, tidy up the house, set the table and wait for your guests to arrive.

Even on short notice, you can plan a perfect dinner party that is relaxing and shows off your home and hosting skills.

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