Skip to main content

How to Throw a Last-Minute Party

Published: May 15, 2023

Unexpectedly hosting a celebration this weekend? Don’t fret! Planning a last-minute party isn’t as stressful as it sounds with these party hacks and simple ideas. From DIY desserts to understated party themes that make a big statement, you can stress less and party more!

table filled with assorted party decorations and sweets

Tips to Throw a (GREAT) Last-Minute Party

Show your guests a great time without breaking the bank or worrying about every little detail. Our last-minute party tips are just what you need to pull something together on the fly.

Choose a Theme

Choosing a party theme is a great way to focus your efforts. Everything will look intentional and tied together for your guests when you’ve got a fun scheme happening. Keep it simple with one or two colors for a last-minute birthday or browse the party section of the store for tried-and-true party ideas like a luau backyard barbecue!

Opt for Traditional Party Decorations

Now that you’ve got a theme, it’s time to pull it together with some decorations! Even the simplest party decor, like balloons and streamers, can have a big impact because they’re a fresh addition to your home’s usual look and feel. Here are some ways to incorporate simple decorations for your last-minute party:

  • Balloons – Balloons are inexpensive and come in plenty of colors. Add height to your celebration with helium balloons on the back of chairs. Or bunch them together as impressive centerpieces. Bonus: These HERSHEY’S KISSES Candy Balloon Weights double as decor and party favors!
  • Streamers – Streamers are another affordable party decoration perfect for accenting your space. Use them to decorate walls and ceilings, or to create a “curtain” separating your party spaces. When paired with balloons, you can line a wall to make a sweet backdrop for group photo memories.
  • Flowers – Make your party space inviting and friendly with a few bunches of fresh flowers on tables and countertops. When choosing flowers, opt for what’s in season or check your yard for wildflowers. Then, mix and match your vase sizes and colors for an eclectic look.
  • String lights – Create a warm atmosphere for gathering or dining with strands of fairy lights or a string light curtain.

Get Outside (If You Can)

Depending on the time of year, having an outdoor party is a great last-minute party option. Hosting guests outdoors means you don’t have to clean your house from top to bottom.

bowl filled with hersheys candy surrounded by plates of grilled food

Prep Quick Activities & Games

Whatever the occasion for your last-minute party, games are a great way to entertain guests of all ages. Grab a board game from the closet, shuffle a deck of cards or create your own fun. Guess the Candy in the Jar is a classic guest activity and a fun door prize for the winner. Keep things low-key by streaming a movie, playing Rom-Com or Blockbuster Bingo along the way!

Last-Minute Party Food Ideas

With your party date fast approaching, there’s no time for multiple trips to the store! When planning a last-minute party menu, dig through your pantry, refrigerator and freezer for something you’ve already got on hand. You might just need to fire up the grill, open up a bag of chips and set out some fresh fruits and veggies for a simple spread. If your last-minute party occurs in between meal times, a sweet and salty snack board could be the way to go!

Another option is setting up a DIY buffet bar, like a chili bar or sandwich board, where guests can help themselves to all the fix-ins. With a buffet-style party, there’s less for you to prep and you’re giving guests lots of options to customize their perfect plate.

tray of assorted snacks and hersheys candy
ice cream sundaes with assorted hersheys toppings

Quick and Easy Party Dessert Ideas

And last, but definitely not least, dessert! Like the food ideas, it’s best to check what you’ve got in your pantry to create a great last-minute party dessert. Explore these HERSHEY’S Cocoa Powder recipes or make a delicious dessert using HERSHEY’S Syrup.

If you liked the idea of setting up a DIY food bar, you can do the same with a dessert buffet. Guests can create their own cupcakes and cookies with a dessert decorating station, or set out all the toppings for the tastiest ice cream sundaes.

No-bake desserts are another tasty time-saver. Throw together this Chocolate Magic Mousse Pie in just 10 minutes, then refrigerate for 3 hours. Or double-dip juicy White Creme and Chocolate Covered Strawberries for a fresh, flavorful treat.

Going BIG is a great way to make a delicious impression. Skip the cookie scoop and bake two HERSHEY’S Milk Chocolate Chip Giant Cookies, ready for slicing and dolloping with vanilla ice cream. Or go small with individual Mini Chocolate Pies, ready to serve at a dinner party in no time at all!

S’mores are another simple three-ingredient dessert that you can make indoors or outdoors for plenty of guests. Choose the best way to make S’mores at home or turn your party into a S’mores night themed celebration!

tray of hersheys rich cocoa fudge
slice of hersheys chocolate magic mousse pie

Now You’re a Party Planning Expert

Decorations, food, dessert … all handled with elegance, grace and taste. Give yourself a pat on the back and a well-deserved celebratory bite of chocolate for throwing the last-minute party everyone will be talking about. Take your party planning prowess to the next level and explore more Parties and Occasions with Hershey.