Entertaining Unexpected Guests

The holidays are here! It’s time for visits with family and friends, Christmas parties… and maybe from an unexpected guest or two. Here are some ideas for what you should have on hand for impromptu parties.


Being ready for unexpected guests requires a bit of prep on your part, but not too much! All you need to do is take note of what you already have at home, and what you need to pick up. Create a shopping list, with key entertaining items that you can tuck away in a pantry or cupboard, like drinks, food, candles, etc. Your overall goal: your guests should feel welcome, and you should feel relaxed.

Add some ambiance — quick!

So your home isn’t quite ready for a visit — don’t panic! In a matter of minutes, you can change the atmosphere with some strategically placed candles and a playlist that’s ready to go. Pick up a few unscented pillar candles, as well as a few candles in warm holiday scents like vanilla, gingerbread cookie, or pine. Place them around the room, and within minutes the sweet scents and the glow from the candles will create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. To top it off, have a few playlists or CDs ready to go, from Christmas carols and classics, to jazz, to current chart toppers. This will instantly create an inviting ambiance, and helps give the illusion that — despite your growing to-do list — you are always ready for company.

Warm Drinks

What’s the first thing you offer your guests? Food and drinks, of course. Invite your guests in from the cold, and offer to warm them up with a toasty mug of their favourite beverage. You likely already have coffee and tea in your pantry, but it’s a good idea to also keep a few other types on warm drinks on hand, including green tea, one or two herbal teas, and some decaf coffee and decaf tea as well. And you can’t forget the best drink to fight the winter chill: hot chocolate! If you want to go the extra mile, make sure you have a bag of marshmallows and mini candy canes for garnish. 

Sweets, Treats and Finger Foods

Your warm drinks need a buddy: cookies for dunking. Sugar cookies, gingersnaps and shortbread are seasonal favourites, but you can never go wrong with classics like chocolate chip and peanut butter. If you’d like to have a few different types of cookies on hand but you don’t want to buy too many bags, buy a tin of cookies with different varieties. These usually contain three or four types (or more!), so you and your guests can indulge in a few different kinds of cookies.

Granted, not everyone will want a sugary-sweet snack, so it’s a good idea to have cheese, crackers and nuts ready to go. Pick up several packs of frozen hors d’oeuvres, tuck them away in your freezer, and when company drops by you can whip up some warm finger foods within minutes.

More than a Snack

Whether your afternoon visit is going late, or guests show up near dinnertime, you’ll always be ready as long as you have two basic things: a phone, and your favourite takeout menu. When the food arrives, take a minute or two to set the table and plate the food with some nice serve ware, and voilà — a plated dinner is served without any fuss.

Overnight Guests

Anything can happen — a car can break down, a snowstorm might hit, or family might stay a little longer than expected. Don’t worry! With a bit of prep, you’ll always be ready to welcome overnight guests. Keep a set of clean linens folded up and ready to go. This includes bedding, towels and face cloths. If you don’t have a spare room, invest in an air mattress so your guests have a comfy place to sleep (you can even reuse this for camping trips or kids’ sleepovers). Arrange a basket of toiletries that you can pull out whenever you need, and fill it with the basics: a toothbrush or two, toothpaste, mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner and lotion, and mouthwash. This is a small touch that makes guests feel welcome, and it only takes a few minutes for you to put together.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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