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Hey, party peeps! It’s FALL! And you know what that means: All of our favorite TV show season premieres are happening! I, for one, am a HUGE Empire fan and couldn’t wait for this next season. At the last minute, I decided to host an Empire Viewing Party for a few girlfriends. When I say “last minute,” I mean, I decided to host the party 3 days before the season premiere! I know, I know—crazy, right? Well, it’s easier than you think with my Top 10 Tips for the Busy Hostess! You can apply these tips to any type of party, but when you are super busy and decide to host a party at the last minute, trust me, you will want to know these shortcuts!
TIP #1: START YOUR PARTY AFTER THE DINNER HOUR!
Save time by starting your party after the dinner hour so you don’t have to take time to cook and serve dinner to your guests! After a long day at work, trust me, this is an invaluable tip. Since most shows begin as early as 8 p.m., invite your guests to arrive at 7:30 p.m. and offer snacks like popcorn and desserts instead.
GIRLFRIEND TIP: For a time-saving tip, if you have a family to cook dinner for on the night of your viewing party, use your slow cooker that day to make dinner for them so dinner’s less time-consuming and stressful. It’s my go-to fix for a hearty meal when I’m busy. It cooks all day while I’m working, is ready when I come home, and, when it’s time for dinner, I simply serve from the pot.
TIP #2: SET UP A THEMED SELF-SERVE SNACK BAR!
Once the show starts, you’ll want few interruptions, so be sure to set up a snack bar with snacks that your guests can get on their own throughout the show. Place the table in a place easily accessible to your guests so they can still see and hear the show when they have to get up to get their snacks.
GIRLFRIEND TIP: Add a custom touch and incorporate a show’s signature color into your party’s decor! My favorite character on Empire is Cookie. I wanted to incorporate elements of her as well as the show itself into the table’s decor. Empire’s signature color is gold, which just happens to be very trendy right now! Target is on trend with lots of gold serveware that you can pick up, like the gold trays you’ll see later in this post. To dress up the table, I used a sparkly gold runner and a fur throw blanket on the table instead of a tablecloth—inspired by Cookie’s wardrobe, which consists of LOTS of fur and bling!
TIP #3: USE SERVEWARE YOU ALREADY HAVE!
Stock up on white and clear trays and bowls to match any party’s decor. Target has an entire aisle of white and clear serveware, including plates, cups, mugs, trays, bowls and more at great prices, so you can have an entire set of serveware on hand to pull out at the last minute. White and clear serveware goes with almost any themed party!
GIRLFRIEND TIP: Be sure to check out the clearance aisles at Target when shopping. I totally scored on these clear acrylic chip-and-dip bowls with lids for only $3.98 each! WHAT??!! I know! They are perfect for parties in a rush! I simply filled them with salsa and bite-sized tortilla chips and I’m all set! Since they have lids, they stack perfectly, so you can fill them in advance of your party with vegetables or fruit and dips, cover them, and put them in the fridge. When it’s party time, take them out of the fridge, remove the lids, and sit them on your table. That’s it! Total timesaver!
TIP #4: ASSEMBLE, DON’T COOK!
Offer premade single-serve desserts on the snack table. Target offers Market Pantry and Archer Farms bite-sized and single-serve desserts, such as these chocolate-chip cookies and brownie bites that go from the container to a serving tray in minutes! They are my go-to party snacks in a hurry. As a timesaver, look for desserts that are already packaged in containers that are similar in size to the serving trays you will use to display them. This is an easy way to see how much you’ll need to buy. You can see that this container of brownie bites fits perfectly on a square gold tray that I used to serve them on. There was no guess-work involved. I knew one container would fill the entire tray. Same with the cookies. I had long, skinny trays, too, which would fit the entire container of cookies when displayed in one long row. This simplifies the stress of trying to figure out how many desserts to buy and prevent you from buying too many or not enough to fill your serving trays.
GIRLFRIEND TIP: Have your party stand out with a signature dessert inspired by the show you’re watching! For an Empire viewing party I offered a variety of cookies in honor of my favorite Empire character—Cookie!
TIP #5: MICROWAVE POPCORN AHEAD OF TIME & MAKE EXTRA FOR REFILLS!
No one wants to have to pause the show to wait to pop more popcorn! Microwave all the popcorn ahead of time and offer your guests individual-sized bowls so they can fill them before the show starts. Place extra popcorn in a large bowl with a scooper or in a popcorn maker so your guests can refill any time.
GIRLFRIEND TIP: Be on the lookout for these tabletop popcorn makers. I don’t pop popcorn in them, as I happen to love the taste and convenience of microwave popcorn. A few minutes in the microwave and you’re done. Then I simply pop a few extra bags and place the extra popcorn into the popcorn maker, which makes for a fabulous display at your party!
TIP #6: OFFER INDIVIDUAL TRAYS & BOWLS FOR EACH GUEST!
I stumbled upon this tip when hosting a movie night party one weekend. I set up a snack bar and realized I didn’t have enough end tables or cocktail tables in my family room for people to put their snacks and drinks on! People were putting their drinks on the floor next to their feet while eating their food from their plates and, instead of watching the movie, all I could do was stress out over who was going to spill their food and drinks all over my furniture and rug! NOT a good feeling. So, I went out and bought a bunch of end tables and cocktails table, right? NO WAY! Instead, I purchased these fabulous individual-sized clear serving trays for each guest. It works perfectly for guests to place their snacks and drinks on their trays before the show starts and then have a sturdy, flat surface to place on their laps. The individual bowls are great, too, so your guests don’t have to share.
GIRLFRIEND TIP: These acrylic Room Essentials trays from Target are great, as they are smaller than the traditional serving trays, which can be a bit big when sitting next to someone. Be sure to look for the smaller ones.
TIP #7: OFFER COZY THROW BLANKETS FOR EACH GUEST!
When you think about watching your favorite TV show premieres, you picture yourself wrapped in a comfy blanket and cozy on your couch, right? Well when you invite your friends over to watch at your house, create a cozy inviting environment for them, too, by having a throw blanket for each guest to wrap up in. Trust me, this tip will make you a rock-star hostess!
GIRLFRIEND TIP: Want to go the extra mile? Offer coordinating throw blanket and matching throw pillows that match your party’s colors. Empire’s main color palette is gold and white, so how perfect are these super soft white pillows and blankets with strands of gold metallic threads woven throughout? Super comfy!
TIP #8: OFFER YOUR GUESTS SPILL-FREE DRINK CUPS!
You know this is the best tip yet! The worst thing you want to do when watching your favorite TV show is to worry that one of your guests is going to spill their red wine on your couch or rug! You know I’m right! And trust me, you don’t want to be the one to do it either, so guests ALWAYS appreciate a spill-free cup option! These insulated drink cups with lids and straws from Target are great, as they are large enough to be filled once and last throughout an entire hour-long show and the double insulation keeps a drink cold for hours!
GIRLFRIEND TIP: Want to really wow your guests? For those of you who are wine drinkers or have friends who are, you’re gonna love this! Target now has these spill-free wine glass tumblers! They are just like adult sippy cups! GENIUS! You can pour your favorite white or red wine into these wine tumblers and enjoy your wine without any fear of spills! How FABULOUS is that?
TIP #9: GET A BABYSITTER FOR THE KIDS!
Sorry, ladies, but really: We have been waiting months to see the premiere of our favorite TV shows! As the hostess, don’t you just want to escape into the world of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy without the kiddos yelling for you from the other room! Trust me, your guests will love you for this. My husband is so great about this…he gladly takes the kids out to dinner and does something fun with them while me and my girlfriends get cozy to watch our must-see shows!
GIRLFRIEND TIP: If getting a babysitter to watch your kids outside the home just won’t work, no worries! I’ve certainly been in that boat! Try this: Pickup the latest kid’s movie from Target, pop some popcorn for the kiddos, and set them up in another room to have their own movie night while you’re hosting your viewing party downstairs! It works for me.
TIP #10: MAKE SURE YOU KNOW HOW TO ACTUALLY WORK THE HOME THEATRE SYSTEM BEFORE YOUR HUSBAND LEAVES WITH THE KIDS!
So, true story: I was hosting a movie night one night and my husband left with the kids and I couldn’t get the sound to work on our home theatre system! SERIOUSLY–what a fail! Don’t make this mistake. I was sure to get the full tutorial on our home theatre system the next day! Good news—it had a happy ending. My husband walked me through getting it to work over the phone. It was up and running BEFORE my guests arrived! Whew…that was a close one!
I hope I’ve inspired you to host your own TV show viewing party this season! It’s easy if you follow my tips.