Everybody loves a good summer party, but if you're working full time during the summer, it can be tough to plan a party on short notice. When your friends text you and tell you they're coming over, don't stress. You can get the food ready in no time, often with things you have lying around the house. Don't feel like you have to cook an extravagant meal for every party you have. There is a saying that the best dishes have five ingredients or less, which just goes to show you that sometimes, it's the simple things that are even better.
Anything on a Stick
When you put food on a stick, it can remind people of state fair food, or it can be an elegant appetizer that you don't need silverware to eat. The added bonus here is that you won't have any silverware to clean up at the end of the night. You can always go for the entrée on a stick and serve corn dogs or other meat on a stick, or you can use toothpicks to create cute appetizers that people will be popping in their mouths all night. You can even add an elevated touch and create dipping sauces for some extra fun. Try serving cheese with salsa, fruit with chocolate, or bread with olive oil. You can create a bunch of different combinations, and let people decide for themselves what to eat.
Lots of grocery stores carry their own lines of appetizers. Trader Joe's frozen appetizers are awesome, for example. You can get spinach artichoke dip, or mini-quiches, or lots of other finger foods. All you have to do is toss them on a cookie sheet and pop them in the oven for a few minutes and voila - you have an instant party. These are great to keep on hand, too, for those impromptu parties because they'll take a long time to go bad in the freezer.
In the spirit of asking for help, asking your guests to bring a dish to pass can help cut down costs and work time dramatically. If you offer to provide the main course, asking people to chip in a dish of their own is totally within the realm of good party etiquette. If you are just having a few people over, you can ask one person to bring appetizers and one to bring dessert, and you'll be eating like kings for the rest of the night.
If you have all the food but you neglected to shop for beverages, ask people to bring whatever they'd like to drink. Often, people have certain beverage restrictions. Some don't want to drink alcohol, some don't want to drink soda, and some don't want to drink caffeine. Whatever the case may be, it's impossible to keep up with it at all. So asking people to bring their own beverage is a great way to keep everyone happy and keep you from making multiple trips to the store.
Sometimes, what a party calls for is really good pizza. Instead of trying to impress everyone by making your own, just call it in on your way home from work. Your pizzas will meet you there, and your friends will come in ready to eat shortly afterwards.
Enlist Some Help
There is no shame in asking for help. If you live with someone and you know they'll be home earlier than you, or if you know that they pass a grocery store on their way home, send them a list of a few things to pick up for the evening. You could even ask them to get things started for you to finish up once you get home. Sometimes, all you need to do is ask.
That's all it would take to get the party rocking with loads of fun and frolic, without any hassle or stress.