Even if you love entertaining, last-minute parties can stress out even the most seasoned hostess. Believe me, I’ve been there!
This is how it typically goes…
We’re days away from a holiday, a weekend, or some other fun reason to celebrate. While being so busy in our day-to-day grind, my husband and I realize we don’t have much plans to celebrate but get an itch for some extra fun. We take a day to chat with friends and realize others are in the same boat. We decide last-minute to host a party at our home. Sometimes the party is small, but other times, we’ve had 30+ people come to our house! No matter the size, we’re always scrambling last-minute to make the party a success! After doing this a few times, I’ve found the perfect combination of retailers to help with hosting a fabulous last-minute bash: Bristol Farms, Michaels and Target! These are my trusty go-to’s for food, drinks, decor and entertainment to keep you sane and your guests happy! Incorporate these retailers with a few no-fail hosting tips (mentioned below), and your short-notice soiree is sure to be a hit!
As July 4th is just a couple days away, I have outlined all the tips you need to host a star-spangled Independence Day celebration on short notice with the help of Bristol Farms, Michaels and Target, below! I also secured a couple batch cocktail recipes from the lead bartender at Hotel Amarano, Burbank’s chicest hotel, to make serving drinks a tasty breeze!
But, first, let’s go over my top tips to make hosting a last-minute party a success…
Tips for Hosting a Party Last-Minute:
Keep It Simple! – A last-minute party is not the time to try that new recipe you pinned or get fancy in the kitchen. Cook something you know. When in doubt, serve what you would normally be serving to your family but just zhuzh it up a bit with presentation, dipping sauces, additional sides, etc. For example, we were hosting a brunch party and our family normally eats eggs and bacon on the weekends. I made an egg-and-bacon casserole with different salsas on the side and served some high-end pre-made pastries and fruit on the side. So easy, yet so crowd-pleasing!
Presentation is Everything – Nice platters and dishes immediately elevate a party. Beautiful presentation gives off the impression that you’ve been planning your party for days — even if you simply take store-bought food out of the plastic containers and add it to porcelain platters! Elevate your drinks, too! Simply adding sliced lemons and limes to a pitcher of water easily adds a sophisticated vibe.
Shop Your Home – Before you rush out to the store to search for items that fit your party’s purpose or theme, first, take a look around your home to see what can be easily repurposed. For example, if you’re hosting a July 4th party, pull out the red napkins from Christmas and tie a white and blue ribbon around them for your table setting. Walk around your garden to pull flowers and greenery that could look beautiful in a vase or scattered throughout your table. Do you have a mini chalkboard, felt letter board, or other type of signage? Add a festive message, like “Home of the Brave” or “God Bless America” for a July 4th party, and you immediately have party decor!
Enlist Help – Last-minute parties should never be done alone! If a guest offers to help, take it! Ask them to bring an appetizer, dessert, or ice. It’s a fact that a party can never have too much ice. That seems to be the first thing that always goes! Tap a close friend to show up early to help set up. Don’t let it all fall on you. You’ll be surprised how many people truly want to help!
How to Host a Last-Minute July 4th Party
Food & Dessert: Bristol Farms Ready-to-Go Meats & Sides
Thank goodness for Bristol Farms, California’s gourmet grocer, to elevate any party with their easy catering and pre-made deli to-go options. For July 4th, they have a large variety of ready-to-go meats that are perfect for a cookout. Take the Bristol Farms Big Time Tri-Tip, for example… marinated for 6 hours and cooked to perfection. If you ask any of the Bristol Farms butchers, they will tell you that the tri-tip is their favorite cut of beef. This USDA Choice cut is part steak, part roast, and totally delicious – with just the right amount of marbling for maximum tenderness. Your guests will be so impressed! And, there’s the Smoked Baby Back Ribs — my personal favorite! They are fall-off-the-bone delicious! Bristol Farms helps round out your BBQ with all their gourmet ready-made sides, too, like Grilled Summer Corn Salad, Spinach Pasta Salad and classic Potato Salad.
If you’re in the mood to grill, there’s nothing more patriotic than the classic July 4th burger cookout, and let me tell you… Bristol Farms kills it in the burger patty game!! Not only do they have the most high-quality classic burger patties made with all-natural Choice ground sirloin that they grind daily, they also offer impressive STUFFED patties that you can easily pick-up and take home to grill, like a Bacon Cheddar Burger, Black and Bleu Burger and Black Bean Veggie Burger. My favorite way to elevate burger cookout is to offer a “DIY Burger Bar.” Simply offer several types of patties and set-out some really cool fixings, like caramelized onions, hummus, bleu cheese, gourmet pickles, etc. You also have to offer the classic mustard and ketchup, of course.
Finish your meal with an adorably festive ready-made dessert from Bristol Farms. Not only do these desserts taste divine, they are the perfect patriotic piece on your July 4th tablescape! On the July 4th holiday, you’ll be able to pick up the Tiered Patriotic Cake, Patriotic White Cake, and Red, White, Blue Star Pie!
Drinks: Batch Cocktail Recipes from Hotel Amarano & Ashland Hard Seltzer
The key to hosting a successful last-minute party is great drinks. When it comes to cocktails, I prefer to serve a couple batch cocktails in a pitcher. This way, no one is playing bartender and it keeps the mess at a minimum. When planning my July 4th cocktails this year, I tapped Norm Downs, the lead bartender at Hotel Amarano, to give me some tried-and-true crowd-pleasing recipes. For some background, Hotel Amarano is the most upscale hotel in Burbank and has long been known as a popular haunt for entertainment industry insiders. The hotel recently underwent a major renovation and has the chicest vibe. You don’t have to be a guest to visit. Locals love to hang out at FYC Bar + Kitchen for the relaxed yet glamorous atmosphere and consistently great food and cocktails.
Here’s the two tastiest summertime drinks Hotel Amarano’s lead bartender suggested to make in pitchers to serve to July 4th party guests:
Summertime Cucumber Basil Tom Collins (makes about 8 servings)
- 1.5 cups Hendrix gin
- 1.5 cups sweet and sour
- 3 cups club soda
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- 1 bunch basil, chopped
- Fill a 90 oz. pitcher with ice and add sliced cucumber and basil.
- Pour gin, sweet and sour, and club soda into pitcher and stir.
- To serve, pour into a glass filled with ice and garnish with a cucumber slice.
Classic Margarita Pitcher (makes about 10 servings)
Norm tells me he prefers Hornitos Plata when making margaritas, and I completely agree! It’s inexpensive and a good tequila for mixing. However, feel free to use any tequila you wish!
- 15 oz. tequila
- 5 oz. triple sec
- 15 oz. Bristol Farms Housemade Margarita Mix
- Pour tequila, triple sec and margarita mix into a large pitcher and stir.
- To serve, salt the rim of a chilled glass (optional). Pour margarita over ice and garnish with lime.
Another festive pitcher cocktail that’s perfect for July 4th is my Red, White & Blue Summer Spritz. It’s so easy to put together and the red and blue berries make it a very patriotic sipper.
If you want to keep drinks extra simple, all you have to do is serve your favorite selection of beer, wine and/or seltzer. For my party guests, I’m obsessed with Ashland Hard Seltzer! It’s made right here in California and crafted with all-natural ingredients for outstanding taste and purity. Ashland Hard Seltzer is 99 calories, 5% alcohol with no sugar, no fat, zero carbs, malt-free and gluten free. It’s variety pack includes several fun flavors for any summer BBQ, like watermelon, blackberry lemonade, mango strawberry and pineapple. There’s even a special edition Bellinger Bomb, a collaboration with Cody Bellinger from the Dodgers, that’s reminiscent of the Bomb Pop popsicle -– the can is red, white and blue, so it’s perfect for July 4th! Ashland Hard Seltzer is available almost everywhere you buy alcohol including Ralphs, Target, Sprouts, Total Wine and more.
I’ve been going to Michaels for as long as I can remember, and I’m always perusing the store’s aisles for upcoming parties, decor, crafts, children’s activities, and gifts! When it comes to prepping for any celebration, Michaels is my first stop!
For July 4th, Michaels has the best selection of Independence Day decor with their exclusive red, white and blue décor collection, Lady Liberty. This year, I scored platters, plates, buckets, tabletop decor, and so much more to make our July 4th party extra festive!
If you want to get creative, they have so many fun and easy craft ideas on their website and app! My kids and I created these simple craft stick American flags, which can add flare to a tablescape or look cute in a flower pot. I love shopping their floral department and getting creative with new ways to make holiday decor. Check out my “MOM” sign I made for Mother’s Day in my KTLA TV segment here.
One amazing and admirable thing to note about Michaels — If you’re military, you get 15% off your entire purchase! This discount is available all year long — not just on July 4th!
Entertainment: Target Sun Squad Backyard Games & Activities
Would I be a “modern mom” without recommending something from Target?! While perusing my multi-week pit-stop, AKA Target, a couple years ago, I discovered their amazing in-house brand Sun Squad. This brand has EVERYTHING for a fun summer outdoors with your friends and family at an affordable price. Jump over to Target right now to explore what can make your last-minute July 4th bash a fun time for guests of all ages. If you have young children attending, grab these large Bubble Wands – every little one LOVES bubbles! A great game for the whole family is the Giant Tumbling Tower or Giant Connect Four. If you have a pool, the Inflatable Cornhole is a fun twist on the classic lawn game. They seriously have everything — lawn games, beach towels and mats, pool floats and rafts, water and beach toys, and more! You’ll use your Sun Squad gear all summer long! You also can take advantage of Target’s convenient same-day services like Drive Up, Order Pickup and Same-Day Delivery with Shipt. Target makes it so easy to prep for a last-minute party!
If you like these ideas, be sure to tune into KTLA-5 Morning News on the morning of July 4th at 11:45 a.m. to see me share more ways to host a last-minute July 4th celebration! The segment also will be posted online at KTLA.com!
If you’re looking for more July 4th party ideas, check out these related posts, linked below!
- Easy July 4th Trifle – This dessert is so easy, it’s scary! Perfect for a last-minute party or if you simply hate to bake!
- July 4th Fruit Skewers – The cutest little treat that your kids will have so much fun making with you!
- Red, White & Blue Summer Spritz – An easy, festive cocktail that will not only taste great but will look beautiful on your party table!
The Red, White & Blue Summer Spritz is one of my favorite party cocktails! Here’s a little how-to video:
Do you have any great last-minute hosting tips? What are your plans for July 4th? I hope you’ll share in the comments below! For more entertaining and family-friendly ideas, follow me on Instagram and TikTok!
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