Confession: In high school, I was voted biggest partier. We used to host gatherings regularly at my parents’ house, and the whole family took pride in our role as host. Luckily, my husband enjoys entertaining just as much as I do, and we have carried this practice forward.

Whether it be a big game, holiday or just nice weather, we like to throw parties at our house. A self-proclaimed planner, I like to know how many people are coming in advance so that I can stock up on enough supplies and set the table correctly. One thing I’ve learned is that no matter how stringent you plan, there will always be last minute, additional guests.


For tunately, expanding your enter taining plans can be simple — with a little forethought.

Stay seated

Keep extra folded seats at the ready. If you have a group chat or email going, ask for extra chairs. If your friends say they only have one or two, ask them to bring them anyway.

Create a space

We have a covered lanai over our outdoor table that designates that space as a dining area. When we exceed the capacity under there, adding an instant canopy on the side allows us to designate an additional dining area.

Double duty


Use unconventional items for seating. Add pillows around the coffee table for a makeshift kids’ table. For the adults, pull coolers, beach chairs, ottomans or shoe storage benches up to the table. Last-minute guests know that they are last-minute additions, and unconventional, unfussy seating adds an air of informality that can be refreshing and welcoming. If you need more tabletop areas, grab the side tables from your living room and your night-stands, and put them together. Throw a tablecloth over top to disguise the furniture, and add seats as needed.

Make more

There is nothing more frustrating to me than running out of food. At holidays like Thanksgiving, there should always be more than enough for the meal itself and also for an extra meal or two of leftovers for guests to bring home. By making more than enough to begin with, you can accommodate extra guests if needed. If not, then you will have more leftovers to pass around at the end.

Mix and mingle

If you don’t have the space for a large, seated meal, allow guests to graze and eat where they please. Having a few small areas for guests to sit gives them the option to eat seated or to stand and chat while they enjoy their meal.


Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email