Your preparations for your upcoming party are almost all completed. The house has been cleaned, the food has been purchased, you’ve already begun to prep some of the recipes for desserts, cocktails, or other dishes on your planned menu. And then, something unexpected happens. The blizzard that the forecasters had hoped would blow out to sea takes a sudden turn into your state. The hurricane that everyone hoped would be a simple summer shower builds in force. Your child comes down with a case of the chicken pox! You catch the flu. Any of these unexpected events can put a real glitch into your party plans. What should you do now?
Step 1 - Consider Alternate Dates
Before you do anything else, you should decide whether it’s possible to host your party on another day. You may need to make a few quick phone calls or texts to learn whether guests will still be available on your chosen date. If you decide that enough guests will be available for your rescheduled date, then immediately contact your entire guest list to inform them of the changed date and time.
If you’re too sick to manage rescheduling the party, but you’re certain you can manage the rescheduled date, enlist a family member or good friend to get the word out about the change in plans for you. You may also want to line up that helper to assist with the party, just in case you’ve overestimated your recovery time and need a little assistance at the party itself.
Step 2 - Oh No, Do You Have to Clean the House - Again?
The answer to this question depends a lot on how many days your party will be postposed. If it’s a mere couple of days, you may be able to get away with a few quick last minute touch-ups to your home, since you had already deep cleaned it for the original scheduled date of your party. A quick run through with your vacuum to pick up any accumulated dust, crumbs or pet hair may be enough, with emphasis on the rooms in which you intend to entertain. As you’re vacuuming, bring along a cleaning cloth and water spritz bottle to wipe off any smudges you see on the glass or furniture.
If the party has been rescheduled a week or more later, you may still get away with a light touch up if it’s not too far into the future. Pay attention to family habits and keep the clutter from building up. Use a duster to go over surfaces (without moving around too many items). You may have to mop the kitchen or other floor if pets and kids have created tracks in your home through normal traffic.
Alternatively, you can embrace your messy home, your family, and all the smudges that accumulate and be confident that guests won’t really notice. After all, they’re visiting to be with you, not to judge you. As long as your home is comfortable and hygienic (no dirty piles of dishes in the sink), don’t worry about cleaning again.
Step 3 - What About All of Those Serving Dishes?
One of the best things you can do to make a party run more smoothly is pull out all of your serving pieces - platters, bowls, baskets, etc. If you’ve been that organized and your party is rescheduled don’t be so tidy that you put everything away until the new date. As long as you have a table that can hold everything for a few days or even weeks until your party, leave it all there. The only thing you will want to do is cover everything to protect the pieces from accumulating dust and/or pet hair. A table cloth or large sheet should do the trick.
Step 4 - How About the Flowers?
If you’ve already purchased a beautiful floral arrangement for your party, you need to try to preserve it until the rescheduled day. First, remember to keep it watered because nothing kills an arrangement faster than allowing it to dry out. Next, put the arrangement in a cold room, basement, or even refrigerator. Check with the florist where you purchased the arrangement to see if the refrigerator is a good place to put the flowers in your arrangement. This may extend the life of your arrangement safely until the party.
Step 5 - Decorations
Who cares if your home looks like a pirate ship an extra week for your son’s pirate theme fifth birthday party? As long as he knows to leave the decorations intact until the day his guests show up for the celebration, leave everything in place. An extra week of practicing pirate speak will make you sound even more like you’ve been out to sea when the party guests finally show up.
Step 6 - Cake and Cookies have Been Baked? No Problem
Most cookies can be safely stored in your freezer for weeks or even months if you’ve carefully wrapped them in an air-tight container. Baked but unfrosted cake layers will hold in the freezer, as long as they’ve been carefully wrapped. In fact, it's usually easier to frost a cake after the layers have put in some time in the freezer.
Step 7 - Fruits and Vegetables Already Cut and Arranged for Serving?
The decision about how to handle pre-cut produce will entirely depend on how many days it will need to be held until your party. Keep the trays well-covered and refrigerated if it will only be a day or two. If you have items that may turn bad, such as berries, remove them from your trays and keep them in a separate container. Then on the day of your party you can decide whether they are still fresh enough to serve.
If, on the other hand, your party has been postponed long enough that you know your produce won’t keep, consider this prep work as a way to make your meals leading up to the party easier. They can be used in stir-fries; salads; added to breakfast cereal or to top pancakes; added to lunch boxes; or served as after school or work snacks. I always consider leftovers from fruit and vegetable trays as a bonus for the host anyway.