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Hosting a dinner party is one of the best (and most fun) ways to get all your favorite people together. Sometimes a friend pops into town unexpectedly, though, and all of a sudden you’re grappling with seating and menus with no time to spare. Not to fear, these six tips will help you get everything under control faster than you can say “Who’s ready for dessert?.”

RELATED: 9 Delicious Picnic Recipes Any Chicagoan Can Make

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Forget the Deep Clean and Spruce Things Up With Florals and Linens

Your apartment doesn’t have to be some immaculate testament to Nancy Meyers films to be a worthy dinner party site. Lauren Plue of Chicago’s Blue Plate Catering suggests buying a variety of floral or potted plants from your local farmers' market and arranging the greenery in the vases, mason jars or old wine bottles that you have on hand.

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No Need To Break Out THE BLENDER: STICK TO 3-INGREDIENT COCKTAILS

Keep it simple when it comes to drinks. Our favorites are three-ingredient cocktails that rely on seasonal fresh fruits and veggies. We’re partial to the ultra-delicious, ultra-easy Pineapple Whiskey Sour.

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Twenty20

Outsource, Outsource, Outsource

Forty-eight hours until your guests arrive and you still have a deadline and work dinner to get through? Go easy on yourself and get someone else to do the heavy lifting. These Chicago-based meal-delivery services will bring homemade (and healthy!) dinners right to your door.

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Twenty20

Keep Your INTERIOR AS IS AND SET THE The Mood With Dimmed Lighting

Lighting is key. Dimming the lights will create an elegant, intimate vibe in an instant. Add a few strategically placed candles (like one in the bathroom) and suddenly we’re dinging at the Ritz.

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PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

Cut Down on Day-Of Cooking With Easy, Make-Ahead Recipes

If you do have time to cook, opt for easy recipes that you can make ahead of time. Soups, sauces and dressings can all be prepared a day in advance so the flavors have a chance to co-mingle. There are also so many easy recipes out there that just require a bit of assembly. One-pan roasted chicken and veggies is the sort of deceptively simple dish guaranteed to impress a crowd.

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Forget the China and Embrace Adorable, Disposable Dishware

Who has the time to handwash 16 bone china plates? Go with disposable dinnerware (we love these bamboo plates!).

RELATED: 6 Chicago Cookbooks for When You Can’t Get a Reservation

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