(BPT) – Parents have never been more crunched for time. Balancing work demands with parental duties is complex – 56 percent of working moms and 50 percent of working dads say they find it very or somewhat difficult to balance these responsibilities, according to a 2013 report about modern parenthood from the Pew Research Center. But just because you’re time strapped doesn’t mean you need to stress when it comes time to host after-school activities or weekend gatherings with friends and family. With a few key strategies, even impromptu parties are a snap to pull together.
Did your teen just call to tell you he’s having the baseball team over for an Xbox live tournament tonight? Has a pop-up neighborhood party suddenly happened at your house? Did you forget about the Girl Scout meeting after school today? Whatever the reason, embrace spontaneous gatherings and go from zero to party in 30 minutes or less with these ideas:
Great parties make everyone feel included, no matter how young or old. For spur-of-the-moment parties, gather your favorite board games and a few decks of cards to spread around on various tables. For outdoor gatherings, nothing beats classic lawn games like Frisbee, bocce, ladder ball or horseshoes. Groups are sure to gather to indulge in the fun, and lively conversation will inevitably follow.
To appeal to younger kids, create a makeshift theater stage with a blanket or shower curtain, and pile up costumes, hats and props. Even wallflowers are sure to bloom during this fun activity that inspires make-believe.
For teenagers, video games are ideal – just make sure your system, game options and high-speed Internet are ready for intensive group play and there are plenty of snacks on hand. Add some comfy pillows and throws so everyone can spread out and enjoy the friendly competition. Ask friends and neighbors to bring over their games too for even more variety.
Time-crunched parents don’t have to worry about fancy food when parties suddenly pop up; guests don’t expect an elaborate meal. Take a no-nonsense approach by serving flavors everyone will love. Frozen appetizers you can pop in the oven and serve beside fresh seasonal items are ideal.
Bite-size foods are best for easy snacking. Bake some Farm Rich Mozzarella Sticks, which are made with 100 percent real mozzarella and lightly seasoned. Kids and adults alike will devour these snacks with a crispy coating and warm cheesy center. Add some zesty Farm Rich Jalapeno Peppers and everyone’s taste buds will be dancing. These snacks, available at Walmart and other grocery stores, pair well with fresh seasonal fare, so set out fresh grapes or strawberries, juicy sliced melon or chopped veggies with dip – whatever you have on hand or can get quickly at the local market – and you’ll have a spread that will disappear almost instantly.
Set the scene
There’s no need to deep clean, but spending a few minutes to tidy up creates a welcoming environment for guests. Focus your efforts on areas where people will gather – like the kitchen, patio or living room. Don’t forget to stock toiletries in the bathrooms, too.
If you have time, decorate for your last-minute shindig with simple yet clever decor. Hosting a video game gathering? Make a banner such as “Nelson’s Awesome Arcade” and hang above the TV. Have memorable photos of your guests? Run a ribbon and attach photos side-by-side with clothespins so everyone can enjoy the fun imagery. Want to add a summer vibe to your party? Skip the florist and cut some fresh buds from your backyard. If you’re stuck, a quick visit to Pinterest is sure to inspire.
When really strapped for time, skip decor and focus on the music – play songs everyone will enjoy and that reflect the theme of the party. Upbeat songs that embrace the warm weather always set the right mood. From the Beach Boys to the most current chart-toppers, some toe-tapping tunes will help guests get in the party groove.
With these tips and tricks, you’ll throw a party or get together that’ll make everybody happy. You’ll stress less and no one will know you put the whole thing together in minutes.