There are some people who can whip up a party on the spur of the moment. I am not one of those people. I love parties, but I love planning a good party almost as much as the actual party. Still, sometimes the holidays with their free time and visits from long lost friends and family make throwing a last minute party a necessity. I have a survival plan.

Cleaning

You know those people whose house is always clean and ready for company? Again, I'm not one of them. But, I do love this quick cleaning guide from Real Simple. Your house will be company ready in 15 minutes.

Food

Sure, it would be great to be one of those people with a freezer full of ready to go appetizers, but you guessed it, I'm not. Here's what you can keep on hand though - nice bowls and stuff with which to fill them. I'm talking easy stuff, a jar of mixed nuts, a bag of oranges, a bag of M&Ms. If you want to get really fancy have some crackers and a jar of tapenade in your pantry. Spread the tapenade on the crackers, put them on a fancy tray and voila, fancy appetizers.

Drinks

So, this I do have on hand - a bottle of white, a bottle of red, a six pack - done. You can always sneak out for refills.

Entertainment

Yes, it would be nice if you could run out and hire a magician or a band the day of your last minute party, but that isn't going to happen. Keep a few board games on hand for guests of different ages, and create a playlist on your ipod. If you think you might have unexpected children as guests, keep a box with cardstock paper in fun patterns, a glue stick, scissors, crayons and stickers handy - the kids will figure out what to do with it. Look at that! You've got a party in about 30 minutes.