New Year’s Plans Gone Awry? Tips for Last-Minute Entertaining

Forget about getting a reservation this late in the game. Here’s your solution: Call the neighbors who decided to “keep it low-key this year,” drag them out of bed, and throw together an impromptu soiree. Author and entertaining expert Matthew Mead gives us the foodie 411 on rocking it until the ball drops.

“It is important to keep key ingredients stocked for spontaneous get-togethers,” Mead writes. “Keep the following items on hand, and you will always be prepared to entertain drop-in guests.”

Last-Minute New Year's Eve Entertaining

  • In the cupboard: Several types of crackers and crisp breads to accompany spreads and cheeses, canned Mandarin oranges (to top cake or add to trifles), and jam, coffee, and tea.
  • In the refrigerator: Semisoft cheese, hard cheese, dip, and salsa. Two bottles of white wine, ginger ale, cranberry juice, seltzer, lemons and limes, and whipping cream. At holiday time, consider a spiral-sliced ham or smoked turkey breast.
  • In the freezer: Fruit bread, biscuits, cheesecake, pound cake, frozen cookie dough.
  • In the entertaining pantry: Red wine, taper, pilar, and votive candles.

Excerpted from Entertaining Simple by Matthew Mead (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). Copyright 2008.

By Julia Ivins, Staff Writer

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Matthew Mead is a stylist, writer, author, photographer, lifestyle editor, and noted style expert. The former style editor of Country Home magazine and Editor in Chief of his own magazine series with Time Inc. Home Entertainment, Matthew is the official food photographer for the Associated Press and is a regular contributor to Better Homes and Gardens and other noted national shelter magazines. Matthew has also written 12 books and produced countless magazine spreads and ad campaigns for noted companies such as Pottery Barn, Dove Chocolate, Target, and Stonewall Kitchen.

Matthew is known for styling beautiful spaces using vintage treasures, guiding others to entertain with ease in a stylish way, and inspiring homeowners to create beautiful food and living spaces which they can proudly share with family and friends. To view Matthew’s portfolio, visit his website,, or his blog, His recently published books includeRecycled StyleHalloween SpooktacularChristmas All Through the House, and The Official DC Super Hero Cookbook.


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