Life is hectic, am I right? I know ours sure is. Sometimes staying on top of your to-do list feels impossible! Often that means your social life stays pretty quiet. But I’m here to give you ways to throw together a party at the last minute.
Sometimes I do this for my kids and their birthdays. Emma was born in early September, so often we scramble to get a party together for her close to her actual birthday. We’re lucky she has a flexible spirit – she’s okay with a party farther from her real birthday, if it means we can do it the way she wants. One year she wanted a Halloween party, so we threw it in October.
We also have separate birthday parties – meaning the girls have their school and dance friends over for a party (or we do a destination party) and then celebrate with family separately. Often the family parties get thrown together maybe with a week’s notice – and we usually get a decent turnout. I try to throw these parties in the backyard on a weekend afternoon to maximize the availability of friends and family.
Related: Budget Conscious Birthday Party Ideas
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Ways to Invite People on Short Notice:
Know your guests
Do your friends and family regularly go to church? Maybe you could plan a Sunday luncheon style party that would naturally populate when church is over. Do your friends prefer a few drinks after work? A Friday night wine and cheese or appetizers party might work for them. Knowing who you’re hoping to attract makes it easier to tailor your party, and your party time.
For my parties, I usually plan for Saturday afternoon. Some of my family have kids in Saturday morning dance classes or swimming lessons, and others would travel to come visit us. Having the party start at 2 or 3 means the youngest guests could still have an early afternoon nap, and the travellers don’t need to race down early in the morning. This also leaves the end time flexible for those youngest friends and family to head home for early bedtimes, and folks who’ve travelled can leave when it’s comfortable for them.
Knowing family schedules ahead hopefully means you can avoid planning a party during busy times for others. This also means if you’re delayed with your invites you’ll have more success getting people to your party!
Make it a drop in
I love the idea of open house parties. They are usually held over a few hours and they are drop in style. That means people can come and go as they please and there’s no pressure to stay for the whole thing.
Most of the people in my life will come and stay, and that’s great, but sometimes there’s that friend who is consistently busy All The Time. Having a drop in style party could possibly give them more options for coming by, staying for a few, then heading off to their next thing.
If the party is going to have cake, give an approximate time that that may be happening so people can choose to come around that time and celebrate properly with the guest of honour.
Pick up the phone
The best way to reach people it still the phone. Leaving a message, or speaking directly with someone, is the easiest way to extend invitations. You know they heard you, and sometimes people know right off the top if they’re available that day.
I’m a naturally introverted person, so picking up the phone is hard for me. I don’t know what it is about calling someone, but I dread it most of the time. Especially if I don’t know the other person well. (Birthday party RSVPs are a nightmare for me if they don’t leave a text or email option!) So I try to call people when I think they won’t be home so I can leave a message. But that means you can’t be sure if they got your message.
Social Media is now the number one way I reach out to people.
Almost everyone has some sort of social media presence these days. Use this to your advantage! I usually create a Facebook event for my party – this gives people the date and time, plus you can organize it as a pot luck or whatever in the discussion area. Facebook events also give you the option to email the event to someone who’s not a FB friend. I’ve done that a few times, but I’m never sure if the recipient gets it.
You can also share the link for your FB event on other social media, so your friends on Twitter (or wherever else) can click through to read it.
I love social media for connecting with my friends and family because there are a lot of options to reach them. Also it’s an “on your own time” way to chat with people. I message you, you read it when you can and then message me back. (This is also why I love email – and I use that often as well.)
Be upfront and apologetic
Sometimes people become upset when you send out last minute invitations. Make sure they know it’s your own fault when approaching friends and family about coming to your party.
“I’m sorry this is last minute – I’ve been swamped with work.” or “How is so-and-so’s birthday here already?” are easy ways to show you’re at fault when trying to throw together a last minute party.
I think you will be surprised at how many people will make time for your party, even when you invite people on short notice. Keeping the party loose and casual means people can drop by when it works for them.
You can read my post on hosting people in a small home, and then check out my gift ideas for kids that aren’t toys. You might get some fun insights there as well.
How often do you throw parties? And how do you get people to come by? I find kids parties pretty easy, but getting adults together can be a lot more work. I hope some of my ideas will help you throw a successful party next time! Let me know in the comments what you do to invite people – especially if you’ve left it to the last minute!