So you have Friday off, which means you'll probably day drink heavily and forget to go grocery shopping for your pitch-in. If you're a guest charged with bringing a starter, vegetable side or dessert, we've got you covered for the dish to bring no matter what you forgot to buy or bring, ready to go in 10 or 30 minutes, depending on how crunched you are for time. We even threw in some gluten-free, paleo-friendly, and vegan recipes so the only whining you'll hear is from the motor of your overworked blender.

Quick Bruschetta

*Vegan (10 minutes)

3-4 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 clove fresh garlic, minced

5-6 big basil leaves sliced into ribbons

1-2 glugs of olive oil (this is the universal sound of olive oil jugs, though I have never measured the exact amount)

Toss together and serve on one of those pre-sliced toasts from the deli. No one will know the difference.

Tastier Bruschetta

(20-30 minutes)

Same as before, but bake your own toasts by slicing a baguette, brushing the slices with olive oil and rubbing each with garlic, then bake at 450 degrees for about 5 minutes. If you want to make this a heavier appetizer, you can offer slices of fresh mozzarella and call it caprese toast with a hearty Kanye shrug.

Marinated dill salad

* Vegan/Gluten Free/Paleo (10 minutes)

1 cup water

1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon fresh, coarsely ground black pepper

3 cucumbers, peeled, sliced 1/4-inch thick

3 tomatoes, cut into wedges

1 onion, sliced and separated into ring

Cut your veggies and toss with wet ingredients and dill. By the time you drive to your party, they'll be marinated and ready to serve.

Mango cabbage salad

*Gluten-free/Vegan without fish sauce/Paleo (20-30 minutes)

1 Napa cabbage, chopped into slaw ribbons

1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips

2 almost-ripe mangoes, sliced into strips

1 red pepper, sliced as the others

1 cup chopped roasted cashews

1 cup chopped mint

1/4 cup rice vinegar

Juice of 2 limes

2 tablespoons fish sauce (soy sauce for veggie/vegans)

Healthy dose of Sriracha

Cut veggies and toss together with wet ingredients. Voila, it's a crunchy flavor party in your mouth.

Angel Food Berry Trifle

(10 minutes)

2 tubs whipped topping

1 pint of strawberries

1 pint of blueberries

1 angel food cake

Cut cake into cubes. Layer with whipped topping, blueberries and halved strawberries for a quick trifle

Way better angel food berry trifle

(20-30 minutes)

1 quart heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pint of strawberries

1 pint of blueberries

1 angel food cake

Turn your broiler on low. Whip cream with sugar and vanilla. Slice angel food cake into cubes and toast lightly on a cookie sheet under broiler until just the tops of the pieces are golden and fragrant. Layer into trifle with berries.

Five Tips for Nailing your Party

Prep Smarter: Dressings make salads wilt, but prepped salads and veggies usually do alright in the fridge overnight if left naked. When you wash your veggies or lettuce, keep the damp kitchen towel wrapped lightly around your lettuce and pop it in the fridge. The cold moisture in the towel makes a little crisper drawer around the veggies. Same thing goes for potato salad: boil (woof) or roast your potatoes the night before and add all your extras like eggs or celery and mix your wet dressing in separate container. Toss in the 30 minutes before your party starts.

Portion Control: Assembling portions is an easy way to do a little portion control for your guests, and a little budget control for yourself. Make kebabs with marinated lower-cost cuts of meat and cheaper proteins like smoked sausage on a skewer with cheap, in-season vegetables like onions and tomatoes. People are more likely to eat things if you can just get it on their plates, so fill them up on veggies by putting them on the same stick with your protein. Go online to to see a handful of thrown-together marinades and instructions on preparing your kebabs.

Drunkard Prevention: If you're hosting a party, your goal is to get out of the thing with the least amount of broken shit, and drunk people break shit, so this is a no-brainer. Unless your guests walked or are spending the night, it's a good idea to try to keep your friends from getting too hammered. If you're serving cocktails, mix up a batch of punch and keep the liquor bottles in the cabinet. Buy beer in grenades and smaller bottles if you've got big drinkers or go with a pony keg. Beer koozies, while rather collegiate, do help your guests enjoy a colder beer for longer, which may mean less beer consumed overall. Even if you're not going all-out with food, it's always a good idea to have a few snacks around to slow the booze's journey into your guests' bloodstreams.

Keep 'em moving: Use smaller plates or large napkins to keep guests coming back to the food table. It's one of those social mix-up things that helps keep conversation flowing and it makes everyone feel like they've eaten more than they have. Not to mention that keeping your guests walking around helps everyone better gauge how much they've really had to drink.

Help your guests help you: Generally speaking, most prefer to invite guests who wash themselves and know what to do with their empties. Help the people who showed up to this party be better guests by providing plenty of clearly-labeled trash and recycling disposals. Set them up near places where people stop to pause a lot anyway, like outside the bathroom or near the booze distribution area, whatever that looks like for you. If you take 5 minutes before you get too toasty to walk around and gather up the most full-looking bags and replace them, you'll save yourself a ton of headache when the party's over and everyone's tossing their trash at overflowing cans.


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